Monday, November 16, 2015

Brazilian Unions Announce Support for Professional MMA Athletes/Sindicatos brasileiros anunciam apoio a atletas profissionais de MMA

Two unions in Brazil announced their support for professional athletes in the growing sport of Mixed Martial Arts, which has deep roots in the Latin American country. The two unions, SAPESP and SINPEFESP, are affiliates of UGT  (União Geral dos Trabalhadores), a labor federation which represents 5.5 million workers throughout Brazil.

“Fighting is hard work, and MMA fighters should be treated and compensated fairly for their work because they are the reason fans pay to watch these events, whether it’s in an arena, on TV, or over the internet,” said Guilherme Martorelli, a representative of SAPESP (Sindicato de Atletas São Paulo), a union whose mission is to defend the rights of athlete-workers. “As MMA continues to thrive in Brazil and globally, MMA athletes deserve their fair share of this tremendous growth.”

“From Vale Tudo to MMA, Brazil has a long and proud tradition in combat sports,” said Weber Matias dos Santos, a director of SINPEFESP, (Sindicato dos Profissionais de Educação Física do Estado de São Paulo), a union for professional trainers. “We will work with our partners in the U.S. and around the world to make sure MMA fighters can have a real voice in their sport through organizing and working together.”

“As we continue to talk to MMA fighters in the U.S., who come from all over the world, we welcome the input and support of our union brothers and sisters in Brazil.” said Chris Griswold, leader of the Teamsters Local 986. “In a global sport industry like MMA, our organizing work has to have a globalfootprint, and we look forward to building solidarity among MMA fighters across all boundaries.”

Dois sindicatos brasileiros anunciaram publicamente seu apoio a atletas profissionais de lutas marciais que competem no cada vez mais popular MMA, um esporte que possui raízes solidificadas neste país latino-americano. Os dois sindicatos, SAPESP e SINPEFESP, são afiliados da UGT (União Geral dos Trabalhadores), uma federação sindical que representa mais de 5.5 milhões de trabalhadores em todo o Brasil.

“Luta marcial é um trabalho duro e os lutadores de MMA devem ser tratados e remunerados de uma maneira justa, afinal os lutadores são a razão que os fãs do esporte acompanham esses eventos, seja em uma arena, na televisão ou na Internet”, assinala Guilherme Martorelli, representante da SAPESP (Sindicato de Atletas Profissionais do Estado de São Paulo), um sindicato que tem a missão de defender os direitos dos trabalhadores-atletas. “A partir do momento que o MMA cresce no Brasil e globalmente, os atletas de MMA merecem se beneficiar deste tremendo crescimento”.

“Passando pela era do Vale Tudo até a era do MMA, o Brasil se orgulha da sua longa tradição em esportes de combate”, afirma Weber Matias dos Santos, diretor do SINPEFESP (Sindicato dos Profissionais de Educação Física do Estado de São Paulo). “Nós iremos trabalhar com os nossos parceiros nos Estados Unidos e em outras partes do mundo para que os lutadores de MMA tenham sua própria voz no esporte através  da organização  sindical e do trabalho coletivo”.

“Seguindo as discussões e conversas que continuamos a ter com os lutadores de MMA nos Estados Unidos, que são originários de todas as partes do mundo, nós acreditamos que a contribuição e o apoio dos nossos irmãos e irmãs dos sindicatos brasileiros é muito bem-vindo”, afirma Chris Griswold,   líder do sindicato americano Teamsters Local 986. “No caso de uma indústria esportiva global como o MMA, a organização sindicaltem que ter uma perspectiva internacional e nós  estamos buscando a criação de um senso de solidariedade sem fronteiras entre todos os lutadores de MMA.”

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fighters and "Residuals"

MMA fighters’ performances are recorded, distributed, and replayed on different media outlets. With the increasing popularity of MMA, fighters might be wondering if they are getting a fair share of the money to be made from their work beyond the initial live events. Should MMA fighters get “residuals” for replays of their performances like TV and movie actors and other performers?

Residuals refer to the payments made to performers when a movie or TV show is replayed beyond the preliminary release. Residuals make up a significant portion of actors’ income, averaging as much as 40% of their total compensation. It is estimated that residuals amounted to $2 billion dollars for writers, directors, and performers in 2014 alone.

Residuals did not always exist for “performers” (a motion picture industry term that includes actors, professional singers, stunt performers, airplane and helicopter pilots, stunt coordinators, professional puppeteers, body doubles, and dancers). The first residuals were bargained by the American Federation of Radio Artists in 1941 to cover replays of recorded programs. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) had the foresight to include residuals in its contract demands in 1948 to cover motion pictures that later appeared on television. Although producers rejected SAG’s demand (and the idea that they would ever sell movies to their rising competitors in television), both parties agreed to negotiate residuals if such a thing were to ever happen. Just a year later, and increasingly throughout the 1950s, studios began selling movies to the major television broadcasters. Although SAG made an agreement about residuals in 1952 with Monogram, the major studios held firm against such payments.

By 1960, under the leadership of SAG president Ronald Reagan (yes, the future U.S. President), SAG began to prepare for a showdown over the issue of residuals. With the major studios holding firm against residuals and providing no pension and health benefits, SAG members voted to strike. The 1960 industry-wide strike lasted from March 7th until April 18th and halted eight major productions. In the end, the major studios folded, agreeing to contribute $2.65 million to create the SAG Pension and Welfare Plan and to start paying residuals on all films after 1960. SAG president Reagan noted after the settlement, “I think the benefits down through the years to performers will be greater than all the previous contracts we have negotiated, put together.”

Currently, residuals are calculated differently depending on a number of factors. For movies that are later released to TV, actors split up 3.6% of the “distributor’s gross receipts” – essentially, what the TV channel pays in order to play the movie. Similarly, performers receive 4.5% to 5.4% of the gross sales of movies that are released on DVDs and Blu-ray. Television show reruns work a little differently, with performers being paid anywhere from 100% of their initial pay for the episode to as little as 5% of their initial pay after the episode has aired 13 times or more. Residuals are also transferred to a performer’s heirs upon his or her death.

A number of popular MMA fighters have gotten acting roles or cameo appearances, some becoming members of SAG. Ronda Rousey has worked on a number of productions that have SAG contracts, including the Expendables 3 and Entourage. All of these fighters are paid residuals through their SAG contracts if they have a line of dialogue.

It was reported in 2012 that some fighters had promotional contracts that paid them a percentage of pay-per-view revenues. But do they get paid when that fight is replayed? We know that fighters have had to sign away their likeness and image rights in perpetuity to be able to be promoted. But should fighters get a better shake? Should they get paid residuals for their fights just like they would if they worked in movies or TV shows?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Letter to Nevada Governor re NSAC and Nick Diaz

Leaders of Teamsters Local 986 and UNITE HERE Culinary Local 226 sent a letter to Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval last week to urge him to "take immediate action to rectify the injustice" against Nick Diaz.

According to the unions: 
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is an important component of the tourism industry in Nevada. As our organizations represent tens of thousands of tourism workers in the state, we are compelled to bring to your attention a recent decision made by the Nevada Athletic Commission against MMA fighter Nick Diaz. We strongly believe that MMA athletes like Mr. Diaz deserve better from the state’s regulators, especially in the absence of a fighters’ association that can advocate collectively on behalf of the fighters themselves. We call on you to take immediate action to rectify the injustice against Mr. Diaz and prevent further harm to the reputation of the sport of MMA in Nevada.
The Commission’s unfair decision against Mr. Diaz demonstrates an arbitrary selection of facts, is inconsistent with the Commission’s own policy, and endangers the reputation of the sport of MMA and the tourism industry in Nevada.

We urge you to (1) explore all available options to mitigate the unfair discipline against Mr. Diaz, (2) conduct an immediate review of the Commission’s policies and procedures, and (3)  appoint a Commissioner with a medical background to provide the Commission with expertise it is currently lacking.

You can read the full letter below: