Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Zuffa, Station Casinos, and the Culinary Worker's Union Meet at Political Crossroad


"History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them."   
  -Martin Luther King

Dana White just found himself in the middle of every big time businessman or politician's nightmare -- a run-in with a labor union. MMAWeekly.com published an article earlier today titled, "A Battle With a Union At the Heart of the UFC and MMA Not Being Santioned in New York." The article covers Dana White's belief that the blocked sanctioning of mixed martial arts in New York is connected to the Fertita's ongoing conflict with the Culinary Union.

The article quotes White:

It has nothing to do with mixed martial arts the reason that we’re not in New York. It has to do with the Culinary Union. The Culinary Union is spending millions of dollars of all these people who pay dues to keep us out of there. Because my partners the Fertitta brothers are the largest non-union gaming company in the country...

These union idiots, all these people work in the Culinary Union, paying all their money towards dues, this is what all their money’s being spent towards.

“It has nothing to do with MMA. It has to do with the Culinary Union. They’re very powerful in New York. These unions on the east coast are still strong like the old school, and that’s really what’s going on.”


Dana's asessment of the situation is actually quite accurate to a degree. Worker's unions may not be as powerful as they were thirty-plus years ago, but they still have the pull and the influence to make things happen when they want them to. So, it's not very hard to believe that the Culinary Worker's Union would use it's money and influence to hinder the MMA legalization process in New York. But Dana's attack on the union, calling them "idiots" and such, was not a business savvy gesture.

The Culinary Union, that Dana White speaks of is the Culinary Workers Union Local 226. The union is currently in an intense legal battle with Station Casinos, which is owned by the Fertita brothers, Lou and Frank, who are also majority owners of Zuffa, LLC., the parent company of the UFC and Strikeforce.

Union representatives made the following comments on their case against Station Casinos via WorkerStation.org, a Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartender's Local 165 website:

Norma Flores, a Station Casinos Organizing Committee member:
"People will see clearly now that Station is a very anti-union company that is trying to do everything it can to stop us from having a voice on the job and winning a better life for our families."

Geoconda Arguello-Kline, President of the Culinary Union Local 226:
"We certainly hope Station Casinos will not retaliate against any of the workers who are brave enough to testify against the company during the NLRB hearing. It is bad enough that Station is running an aggressive anti-union campaign, which has led to this massive NLRB complaint. It will be adding insult to injury if it punishes workers further for speaking out against allegedly illegal behavior by their supervisors and managers."


It definitely looks like Station Casinos has its hands full with the Culinary Union situation, and to make matters worse the company has also filed bankruptcy as part of a major restructuring effort. Station Casinos is one of several Las Vegas players to undergo financial facelifts in response to the current economic recession. Whether any of this will have any effect on Zuffa's MMA agenda is a gambler's call, but calling the union a bunch of "idiots" can't help the situation.

It looks like the fate of MMA in New York lies in the fate of Station Casino's relationship with the Culinary Worker's Union. So, unless money hungry sons of bitches like the Fertitas and cocky MMA promoters like Dana White make it a point to keep the Union folks happy, an Octagon premiere at Madison Square Garden may never be a reality.

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