By Eric Jayden
Hey wrestling fans! Today I have another question that I have addressed in the past and, lately, I have been getting a lot of emails about, and that’s wrestling and unionization. Below is my opinion on the topic.
Professional wrestlers are classified as “independent contractors” and, for the majority of wrestlers that are signed to contracts, they are not afforded the same rights or protections given to actual employees of a company. For many years now, there has been talk about creating a union for professional wrestlers and efforts to organize, unfortunately, they have never materialized. As an “independent contractor,” professional wrestlers are not afforded healthcare plans, standardized pay and many of the protections offered by state and federal labor laws. For example, if a wrestler gets sick then he or she is responsible for their own medical expenses. Another example is if the wrestler requires time off for an emergency or personal issue, he or she can be either denied the time off or take the time off without pay. Basically, not be entitled to the protections of programs like the Family Emergency Leave Act, that is afforded to many full time and part time employees across the nation.
Professional wrestlers, also in many situations, must work long hours and endure many days of travel without having consecutive days off like regular employees do. Those who have sought the creation of a union wanted those same protections regular employees have. But those attempts were met with opposition from various major wrestling promotions throughout the years and, most currently, with the WWE. The WWE was one of those companies who has allegedly released wrestling talents from their contracts after the talent has shown their support to unionize. The fact that wrestlers were released shortly after voicing their support only leave many to speculate, why is the WWE is so opposed to having their wrestlers unionize. To me, it’s simple…it all comes down to money. Paying for health insurance, retirement plans, etc, all will cost them more money than they are currently spending. Less money into benefits, means more money with the company.
The classification of independent contractor is a subject that has been in the news media before with many politicians speaking against companies having workers labeled as or using the term independent contractors. All in an attempt to avoid providing healthcare and job protections.
In my opinion, having a national union for professional wrestlers would be greatly beneficial—providing the members with the protections of job safety, rate of pay equality, healthcare and retirement plans. Since pro wrestling runs throughout the year and has no off-season, having a union negotiate reasonable time off would be essential to the health and well-being of the professional wrestler. To unionize or not, that indeed is the question, and if it can happen or will happen, well, only time will tell.
Send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and have great weekend!