Andrew Yang feels that it's "plain f*cking greed" and "shameful" that WWE mistreats workers while being worth billions

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/09/10/andrew-yang-feels-that-its-plain-fcking-greed-and-shameful-that-wwe-mistreats-workers-while-being-worth-billions/

Several days ago, former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang took to social media and shared his thoughts about the new edict that’s being established in WWE, which was first reported by Wrestling Inc. that talent will have to stop using third parties (Twitch, Cameo etc.) within 30 days or face the potential of fines, suspensions or even termination.

Come on Vince – you’ve already deprived the folks breaking their backs for you of healthcare, security, recovery time, retirement benefits and fair treatment re: licenses and royalties. At least let them make a living off their own names. Many of them need it.

— Andrew Yang🧢🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) September 5, 2020

Yang sat down with Chris Van Vliet for an exclusive interview to further discuss the topic at hand. Yang feels that it’s shameful and plain greedy that the WWE is worth billions of dollars and mistreats workers. He added that the affordability argument does not apply to the sports-entertainment company because of their investment and recent losses by way of the XFL.

“Well this story is dead real and I will say though that there are a lot of effective storylines that kind of melded reality with fiction, so to the extent that this ends up being part of a narrative, I’d be open to it because I think the fans know. The fans are smart. The fans understand what’s going on. It’s one reason why a lot of people support AEW is that they get this negative vibe from the WWE about the way the talent’s being treated and you can tell that… you can tell that has nothing to do with the bottom line anymore because the McMahons have made so much money. They have enough money where they’re investing in these football leagues and whatnot and then the XFL failed again. If you’re a wrestler, breaking your back and then the WWE is like, ‘Oh we can’t afford you, you’re fired.’ It’s like, ‘Well, you probably could have afforded me if you could afford to lose tens of millions on that debacle,’ and so the affordability argument does not apply to WWE in a way that it applies to every other firm. If you look at AEW, I have a feeling their economics are real. But the WWE does not have those constraints anymore because it’s a public company, the McMahons are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, they spend it on all sorts of stuff.

And the company worth’s 3.3 billion and so if your company’s worth 3.3 billion and you’re mistreating workers, I mean that’s just shameful. Really it’s shameful. There was a point in the distant past where you could’ve made a legitimate argument based upon cost but now you can’t. Now it’s just plain f*cking greed… so we can all see it, fans know. So it’s one reason why a lot of people want there to be fair treatment of wrestlers and genuine competition in the market.”

Yang touched on WWE talents being classified as “independent contractors”. He rebutted against the argument that talents are the ones who signed the contract so they should be aware of what they signed off on. Yang feels that-that’s a reason why so many back All Elite Wrestling is so that they can create a competitive market so wrestlers don’t get exploited.

“Well one, I heard from a former who’s not happy about this particular clarification or this particular rule but the truth of it is that there’s a vastly uneven bargaining table at work where if you’re a performer and WWE says, ‘Hey, here’s this contract and we’re going to stick a bunch of things in it that you think are unfair, ridiculous and exploitative,’ at the end of the day you feel like you have no choice but to sign that deal because WWE holds the keys to the kingdom. They are the largest company, they’re the surest means to elevate your career and there hasn’t been a genuinely competitive market for years. It’s one reason why I, like many other fans naturally root for AEW to succeed and create a genuine competitive market so that wrestlers don’t get exploited. But the reality is that WWE is a quasi-monopoly and imagining that, ‘These wrestlers, oh, they know what they got into,’ it’s like, well, they really didn’t have a genuine chance to negotiate a bargain.”

At the beginning of the interview, Andrew Yang shared how he was first informed of WWE’s new edict. Yang mentioned that he has been on the side of MMA fighters who are involved in similar situations with Dana White and UFC. Yang reiterated that if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are elected to office this year, then he could be in position to change how WWE goes about treating their wrestlers in a contractual sense.

“I actually got a message from someone who’s a part of WWE, pointing out the story to me about how WWE was saying, ‘Hey, don’t go on Cameo or Twitch’ and it infuriated me because I know that the WWE has been trying to play it both ways for years where they’re saying, ‘Can’t do anything without our say-so. We own you, but you’re an independent contractor and we have nothing to do with your health, retirement, any of the benefits you get that would accrue to an employee.’ So to me, you have to make a choice at some point. If you’re gonna control all the aspects of a wrestler, performers waking life then you should take some responsibility too for that person. A bigger picture, maybe they have a kid, maybe they get maternity, paternity leave, maybe they get an off-season, maybe they get recovery time and I say this as someone who’s been a long time fan of the sport. I know you win, I may be in position to do something about it.”

Yang spoke highly of All Elite Wrestling during the interview and to get a recap of the 9/9 edition of Dynamite which featured the debut of Miro (Rusev), head over to POST Wrestling’s “podcasts” section.

If any of the quotes from this article are used, please credit Chris Van Vliet with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

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Vince might’ve really stepped in at this time. If the Democrats take office this year, I don’t think this is going to go away. I hope it doesn’t.

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Almost makes me wish I was American just to vote Democrat in November. Very well said. Surprised to hear a politician swear and sound so real.

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Yang is actually an entrepreneur and former corporate lawyer whose attempt at being President would have been his first job in politics (just like the current President), but I agree with what you’re saying, and what he’s saying.

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If the election does go that way (Fingers crossed), does he at this point have a position? Had Bidden appointed him to anything? Being Canadian I don’t follow US politics too closely as I just find it aggravating.

I haven’t seen any indication from Biden that he would appoint him in that position but even Yang himself said on Twitter that even if he wasn’t appointed Secretary of Labor that he believes he could have the ear of whoever’s appointed to the job and tackle the independent contractor issue.

I know he said that, but politicians say a lot of things. I don’t see how a person can be confident about something like that without even knowing who the SOL is going to be.

Time will tell, but I won’t get my hopes up.

I’m rooting for this guy, definitely.

Unless he can force WWE to keep the same number of wrestlers under contract while also making WWE view them all as employees, Vince won’t be hurt by this. Lower salaries and fewer wrestlers is an easy move for Vince. I doubt the wrestlers lower down the card will actually be looking forward to it as its more likely that they’ll be cut rather than them enjoying any new benefits. They won’t do as well on cameo, twitch, etc. either when compared to wrestlers that are already valued.

Would be a great thing for valued wrestlers, not so much for the ones that are lucky to have a contract with WWE.

Maybe in the short term, long term a lot of them would benifit. I think it all depends on how much pull Yang actually has, and who is appointed the position. Nobody can say right now definitively if this threatens Vince or not.

Even if Andrew Yang was secretary of labor or even president it doesn’t mean anything would happen legally unless democrats control the senate to be able to pass legislation changing the use of “independent contractors”. So nobody should be expecting anything to change under a Biden presidency unless democrats take over a majority of the senate as well.

And honestly even if Dems do win in November I think there are far more important things they should be focusing on.

Changes won’t be as easy as Congress turning Democrat. It’s not just WWE that would be affected. I’d imagine Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, etc. are all prepared to make some serious campaign donations to keep Independent Contractor law right where it is. Not to mention all of Hollywood, unless they want to start spending much more of their film and TV budget on session musicians.

Congress would have nothing to do with it. It’s a matter of Department of Labor and IRS enforcement.

Will the Democrats come out out on top. -
Yes
Will Biden appoint Yang in the relevant position -
Unlikely
I’m surprised this hasn’t arose as an issue previously. Yang makes a lot of good points. CVV is a great interviewer. I just don’t think Yang will get too far with this issue, regretfully

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I disagree. The wrestling industries use of the Independent Contractors isn’t necessarily illegal. They are taking advantage of a loophole that isn’t clear under the law. To go after them legislation would have to be passed to further clarify the Independent Contractor definition.

And they can’t just go after WWE. Any changes would impact AEW and every other wrestling company.

It’s not illegal but they can’t then enforce employee conditions on them (and even then a lot of the conditions would need to be specific contractual terms). If they all just had the wherewithal and balls to tell Vince to go fuck himself it wouldn’t be a problem.

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Not exactly true, as AEW allows their talent to wrestle to other places too. I think only Cody, The Bucks and Omega are actual employees there. As far as I remember, the talent should ask or it should not be televised or something, but they are absolutely allowed to work in between dates.

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They allow them to go to select places, but this is a good point. Everyone seems to think that government is going to tell WWE that they can’t employ wrestlers as independent contractors. While that technically could happen, I dont think that is the issue at hand here. The issue IMO is WWE classifying the wrestlers as independent contractors, then treating them like employees. Most likely if this did go to the government, WWE would have to back off on quite a bit.

The thing is the top performers get paid VERY well, and likely have a strong relationship with McMahon. The one’s who would want to tell him to Fuck off are probably the one’s that he considers disposable and they dont want to loose their jobs.

The pessimist in me says that all we’re talking about in the long-term is which verbs are used in a contract. I’m not smart enough to know the specifics of how it will happen, but I think WWE wrestlers will always be exclusive (at least among wrestling promotions), and will always be considered independent contractors.