Culinary Workers Union Attempt to Bust UFC is in “Bad Taste”
- September 7th, 2011
by Charles Jay
The Culinary Workers Union has, over the years, failed miserably in its attempt to drive up the price of steak and potatoes for you, me and everyone else at places like the Boulder Station or the Green Valley Ranch.
So now it wants to take down the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
You see the connection, right?
“No, not really,” said the masses (oops, pardon the pun).
Well, it actually makes for perfect logic, when you come to the realization that the Fertitta family, the principal owners of the UFC, have had the audacity to insist on running a hotel-casino operation in the state of Nevada that leaves work open to non-union individuals; i.e., workers who aren’t interested in forking over dues that are funneled to partisan political causes without their approval, and often, without their knowledge.
Okay, okay, we may be getting ahead of ourselves a little there.
But that, in a nutshell, is how it comes to be that the UFC, which has nothing to do with culinary arts, culinary workers or culinary practices, finds itself under attack by this culinary group.
Now for the REAL question: does this bring me any closer to knowing who to complain to if the popcorn is lousy at a UFC event?
That might be a more worthwhile investigative subject than that which something called the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 has cried wolf about to the Federal Trade Commission, screaming “restraint of trade,” in a recent letter that was sent out to various news outlets.
I’m not even going to talk to you from a legal perspective – Bryanna Fissori has addressed many of the issues at hand quite capably in her BoxingInsider story – but from a moral and common sense standpoint.
There is no question that when you look at the UFC and its dominant market position, there is the appearance of monopoly. There is the impression that if you want to make top dollar, or at least what is available in the sport of mixed martial arts, there is only one place to go.
It is, I suppose, a “monopoly” by definition, but how was it earned?
Well, I can tell you that when Zuffa (the Fertittas, plus Dana White) bought the UFC, the sport of mixed martial arts was nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. Nowhere in terms of regulatory acceptance; nowhere in terms of capitalization; nowhere with regard to sales. Zuffa reshaped and repackaged the product, spent through many millions, without any assurances of anything, I might add, and literally created a mass market for what had been, at best, a cult success in the past. In fact, as far as the U.S. territory (i.e., that within the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission) is concerned, they WERE the market, and it was only after they had experienced some measure of success that competitors with any kind of bankroll came out of the woodwork. In fact, it was only then that PRIDE came stateside to do shows in the U.S.
The UFC helped to create the framework (along with our friends at the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board) by which athletic commissions, who have the police power to prohibit combat sports events from taking place, approved and sanctioned MMA. They got cable systems to again carry the sport on pay-per-view television. They developed an audience on cable TV. They spotted a demographic and served it about as well as one can be served, to the point where now the company is getting $90 million a year for TV rights from Fox. If ever a monopoly was EARNED, this is it.
And yes, they bought up some of those “competitors” along the way. In some cases those rivals had a similar opportunity to develop an audience, but either did not have the financial or moral wherewithal to fight it out. Some would-be promoters were interested in little more than a money grab, therefore sealing their fate early on, and you cannot punish the UFC for that.
As I have told someone recently regarding this state of affairs, I have seen plenty of big names get into the MMA game – Mark Cuban, Oscar De La Hoya and Donald Trump among them. They all had enough cash to compete, but none of them wanted to put both feet in the water. They didn’t have what the UFC brought into the fray; something that couldn’t be illegal by anyone’s standards – passion.
You could also add “ingenuity” to that equation.
Even so, this is not to say that competitors couldn’t exist to serve a niche, or even better than that. Would anyone argue that Bellator has been a failure?
Already we have heard that the outlets that aren’t going to have original UFC programming anymore – namely Versus and Spike TV, are looking for promoters who can fill that void. Bellator is a natural for the Spike TV slot, since they are already with the sister network, MTV, which is all part of the Viacom family.
In fact, not only are the other networks NOT being monopolized by the UFC, the exclusive deal they have made with Fox actually opens up the field to MORE competition.
I have given you enough to chew on until tomorrow. But today’s lesson is that there is nothing intrinsically in the business practices of the UFC that necessarily prevents other organizations from doing business, and doing it well.
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