WWE has put itself in a tough position with some of the recent decisions they've made. While fans and many others from the outside have publicly criticized WWE's usage of the "independent contractor" term, it only got worse once the decision was made to force superstars from using third-party apps such as Twitch and Cameo.
The former, Twitch, was one that hit superstars hard because, for many of them, it's an external revenue stream as well. Instead, WWE gave a few week's notice before announcing to the talent that they would take control of it.
It only got worse as former US Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang was informed by the talent that Twitch will also become a work obligation for talent and that not taking part in it could result in a fine. As for their earnings, they will only earn a percentage of it.
Unions in WWWE has been needed for a long time now. Jesse "The Body" Ventura was the most vocal person in WWE history about forming a union. He told 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin:
Vince [McMahon] is lucky that I never got to the Senate because I would have investigated that because, to me, look at the thousands of dollars it [has] cost all of us wrestlers to have to pay 15% or whatever it is as an independent contractor on our taxes. That’s a bee that has been under my saddle since I began wrestling. I thought, ‘we are not independent contractors – we can’t work for another promotion on Wednesday and work for you on Friday. It don’t work that way. How are we independent contractors?'”
What would a union do for WWE superstars?
If Andrew Yang and several others follow through, then WWE could find themselves under a great deal of pressure. In the same interview mentioned above, Jesse Ventura revealed that he tried to form a union backstage when nobody but the talent was around, but he was called by Vince McMahon, who threatened to fire him if any talk ever came up about a union.
As for who told Vince McMahon - it was Hulk Hogan. Ventura stated that Vince McMahon has been fighting off a union for years now, but if WWE superstars are serious about standing up for themselves, then this could be a game-changer.
Ultimately, it's up to a locker room leader in WWE to make the stand and represent the talent. It's a complicated situation, but the consensus outside of the WWE higher-ups is that wrestlers should form a union for their benefits.Published 06 Oct 2020, 06:49 IST