It has been under three months since baseball agent Jeff Morris and attorney Lucas Middlebrook announced the Professional Fighters Association, with the goal of the association being to unionize the fighters.
The PFA, during UFC 205 fight week in New York City, is expected to announce the nine fighters to make up the executive board, which is expected to have current UFC fighters on it.
"Those nine individuals are going to be responsible for making policy decisions. As the union starts to collect more authorization cards and gets closer to potentially filing with the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), or asking for voluntary recognition, there's certain things that you have to do both from an administrative end and from a legal standpoint. You have to have a constitution and bylaws that end up getting filed with the Department of Labor, and there's things in those constitutions and bylaws that you're really going to want fighters to start making the decisions on. You can amend those at a later date, but you don't want just a lawyer and an agent drafting that for the fighters. This is something they should have input on. It's going to be their union. So ultimately the executive board is going to be empowered with making policy decisions for the union going forward and administrative decisions on when we're ready to file with the NLRB. Obviously I'll be there to counsel them on any legal points and answer any questions they have," Middlebrook said to MMA Fighting. "But it's going to be a union of the fighters and run by the fighters, so the sooner we can get some sort of executive board in place, really, I think the more genuine and the more realistic that the union is, because you have fighters already making decisions for the profession and their career.”
The PFA has not been around long at this point, but they have found support from unnamed UFC fighters, despite the fear of repercussions.
"There definitely is that fear out there," Middlebrook acknowledged. And really, what I'm finding is that it's more -- and this is typical with any union organizing drive -- that they don't understand the process, they don't understand the protections that are in the law, what it means to sign an authorization card, what happens after that. So I'm really finding that once you are able to talk one-on-one or in small groups, that once they have a better understanding, a lot of that fear starts dwindling away. And actually, some (fighters) are really looking forward to actually coming out and being publicly known for their role on the board."
The PFA knows that starting a union for UFC fighters is going to be a long process, something that Middlebrook is well aware of.
"I think we're still talking maybe into the early spring of 2017," Middlebrook said. "But what I will tell you, I do feel that once the executive board is announced and fighters see that there are other fighters who are now willing to serve in a position on the union, and these other fighters are then out there with the authorization cards, I think it's going to just lend more credibility to the organization and the drive, the organizing drive that's going on. I expect the card collection to actually pick up once the board is out there, so I could see an influx of cards coming in shortly thereafter. But I would still think that we're probably looking at the early spring of 2017 before we have a sufficient number of cards to where we need to make a decision on where we're going then."
The nine fighters for the interim executive board are unknown at this time.