On the Pros and Cons of Fighter Unionism

A Fighter Union is a great idea from the point of view of the fighters, who are the talent engine of the UFC/MMA.

- Provides collective negotiations and a single counterforce to the monolithic UFC.  Likely result: better pay for fighters

- Potentially improved working conditions and ancillary benefits (e.g. insurance, medical, promotional exposure, sponsorship/endorsement access)

The UFC may not publicly favor it, and overall management tend not to prefer unionism as it reduces the power imbalance between management and staff.  However, there are some potential benefits:

- Less effort required to communicate/negotiate with myriad individuals

- Happier workers (i.e. fighters) who are satisfied that their needs are addressed or at least communicated, through the union - leading to potentially better performances

- Public recognition of corporate social responsibility (i.e. taking care of its employees by working positively with the union)

Personally, I think the mid to lower tier fighters really ought to work together with their managers and each other to develop this union.  Potentially, community minded stars might also assist (e.g GSP), but I tend to think that the stars have little to gain from a union (I doubt Brock would spend too much time helping out, but that's just my impression based on public person - I don't know him personally).

In the "Pay" thread I may come across as anti-fighter but I'm not.  I simply think that in a capitalist market like the USA and the broader world market, you cannot reasonably expect a corporation to NOT maximise profits.  The UFC increase fighter pay at a fast rate but its own profits increase faster than that.  There is nothing wrong or immoral about that, and in fact executives would be failing in their contracted duties if they overpaid fighters to the detriment of shareholder returns/dividends.  It can be grounds for dismissal and even legal action, if executives pay over market rate, unnecessarily, against the shareholders' wishes.  Shareholders will usually choose to gain maximum profits, and I would argue that the pay rates of the UFC being better than the competition (i.e. market rates) already suggests some generosity on the part of the owners/management.  We have heard of other instances of UFC generosity (back room bonuses for good performance, medical assistance to a young girl and some athletes, Nam Phan's win bonus - none of which the UFC needs to do under contract, and if they didn't do these things, they wouldn't be losing their fighters, you can be sure).

This only really works well if a large number of the fighters both in and out of the UFC are members.  A scenario where most of the lower to mid tier UFC fighters join but good fighters outside UFC do not, would allow the UFC to use non-union labor to counter the power of the union.

A powerful but collaborative union would encourage the UFC to work productively with them.  The UFC's best interest is to have a happy Union if the Union is powerful, to avoid such outcomes as excessive wage rise claims, strikes and even violence against UFC staff and facilities.  Therefore the UFC would be smart to agree to satisfactory wage increases and good minimum working conditions like medical assistance/insurance.

So, lower-to-mid-tier fighters and your managers - DO SOMETHING to help yourself, if you feel wages are currently too low.  Engage a smart manager or fighter to be your representative, and each fighter member could put a small amount of money toward paying that person to develop the union and lead it.

by Arca MMA

[Arca MMA is a management consultant focusing on Business Strategy, Mergers and Acquisitions, and the Sports / Entertainment industry]

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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