Source: Las Vegas Review Journal
Zuffa and more notably the Fertittas have been forced into a battle with the Las Vegas Culinary Union Local 226, and oppositions have heated up as the Culinary 226 has sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission calling for an investigation into what they believe are violations of Anti-Trust laws on the part of Zuffa.
In the past year, we have learned that Culinary workers have protested the Fertitta owned Station Casinos (which is a non-union gaming company) in an effort to put a stop to their “anti-union campaign.” The union has openly protested that Station Casinos prevents and interferes in their employees’ rights to organize.
Already added to these troubles, Zuffa and more vocally, Dana White believes it is the culinary union [in New York] that is halting the legalization of MMA in NY. Dana had said to MMA Weekly:
“It has nothing to do with Mixed Martial Arts, of all things, it’s the Culinary Union that’s keeping us out of New York. They’re powerful guys here. The economic impact we have on a city is huge.”
“This time we got all the way up, got all the votes all the way (through various committees), but they never put us on the floor to try and get the votes. They are spending union member dues to fight the UFC from coming (to New York).”
And today in Las Vegas, in what looks like it could have been motivated by their union feud, the Director of Culinary Research, Ken Liu wrote to the FTC:
“Zuffa has preserved and strengthened this dominant market position through exclusionary conduct by refusing to co-promote events, as well as anticompetitive contractual restraints that severely limit a professional athlete’s freedom of movement,”
Yahoo! Sports sites further examples from the Culinary 226′s complaints in the letter:
– The champion’s clause, which automatically renews a contract for UFC champions.
— Merchandising rights that give Zuffa rights to a fighter’s image in perpetuity. This clause is what Jon Fitch had a problem with when he was briefly cut from the organization.
— Restraints on athlete’s mobility and pay, meaning that by buying up the marketplace. Zuffa can keep a fighter from engaging the marketplace for fair pay.
The Las Vegas Review Journal notes: The union cites a 2008 independent equities research firm report which estimates Zuffa owns 80 to 90 percent of the MMA market.
In recent months Zuffa has purchased their biggest competitor, the Strikeforce promotion, which looks to be disbanding and who’s television contract with Showtime Network will expire in 2012. Also this year, Zuffa has made a huge beneficial impact with their fighters by providing health insurance, which is not currently offered by any other MMA promotion.