Unions have been a big topic of debate in the world of sports in the past few years, with college athletes, wrestlers and others trying to, or speaking of unionize. Now UFC fighters are trying to do the same with a new organization that aims to have them unionized.
In a press release on August 11, it was announced the Professional Fighters Association (PFA) has been established with a goal to get collective bargaining for UFC athletes. The PFA is hoping to get recognition of a fighters union through the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the release stated. The group has the support of many of the major sports unions, like the MLPBA and NFLPA.
"PFA will not only be a union of fighters, but it will be governed solely by fighters," the release said. "It is the fighters who will control their own futures."
The group is led by baseball agent Jeff Borris, labor attorney Lucas Middlebrook and economist Andrew Zimbalist. Some of Borris' most well known athletes that he once represented were Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco and Rickey Henderson. Middlebrook is Nick Diaz's lawyer and is counsel for the Major League Soccer referees union, NBA referees union and the unions for Southwest Airlines employees. Donald Fehr, current NHLPA executive director and former longtime MLBPA executive director said in the release that he is excited to be representing these fighters.
"I have been privileged to represent elite athletes for nearly 40 years, and believe now more than ever in the benefits of collective bargaining to secure and enhance terms and conditions of employment," Fehr said. "That is why I fully support and encourage efforts of the fighters to organize a union to represent them."
Multiple fighters publicly spoke out about fair treatment and pay after the Fertitta brothers sold the UFC to a group led by WME-IMG for $4 billion last month. Estimates have put the percentage of UFC revenues going toward fighters at 14 or 15 percent. Athletes in other sports earn 40 percent or more of revenue.
This isn't the only organization aimed at getting fighters unionized. There is also the MMA Fighters Association (MMAFA), led by Arizona lawyer Rob Maysey, that is supported by the likes of Randy Couture, Cung Le and others. The release said that the UFC has had too much of the revenue and that it is time for the fighters to receive their fair share.
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