The biggest pro-wrestling company in the world is the WWE. World Wrestling Entertainment has also been around for decades upon decades, all the way back when a wrestler would work various territories. Back in the 70’s and before, a guy like say Ric Flair or Superstar Billy Graham would work for maybe a dozen different small promotional companies in a dozen weeks, all wrestling as his character.
Vince McMahon the the WWE still treats wrestlers as independent contractors. The problem, though, is that many labor laws would say they are employees. Independent contractors can generally go work for anyone whenever the want, including multiple companies at the same time, but must provide their own transportation, health care, etc. The WWE says its athletes should provide their own transportation and health care, sure, but they can’t work for anyone else. Famously, they can’t even take jobs OUTSIDE of wrestling without approval from the company.
The other issue is that the WWE is essentially a worldwide monopoly, so you can’t really just go work for someone else. AEW isn’t yet a viably company. Nor are ROH or TNA (uh, IMPACT) for most people who want to make a living. A few overseas companies exist, too, but they still don’t have the massive reach that the WWE has. It’s as if Hollywood had one studio and no one was unionized.
TL;DNR – The WWE still treats people who should be employees as independent contractors for a variety of (mostly) selfish reasons.
California law might now say that’s illegal to do in their state. This is certainly setting up a big legal fight ahead. Or the WWE might just not have live events in California. It won’t be the first time they skipped a state because of local laws, but California is kind of a major market for… well, everything.
It remains to be see what will or won’t happen with this lawsuit, and whether or not wrestlers will finally get the employment protections that any employee deserves.
Things might’ve been different for everyone if former governor Jesse Ventura managed to unionize the WWE back in the 1980’s. Maybe he should call Mayor Kane and former County Commission B. Brian Blair to start a supertream of political wrestlers to fix this mess. Maybe don’t call WWE owner Vince McMahon’s wife, Linda, though as she is busy stepping down from being the Small Business Administrator in Trump’s cabinet to work on the Trump 2020 PAC.
And that paragraph proves we live in a Bizarro World alternative reality…
What do you think of the WWE’s contention that their workers are independent contractors, and do you think California’s new law should be implemented elsewhere? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!