New Group Launches in Hopes of Organizing UFC Fighters Union

By Tristen Critchfield Aug 11, 2016
A new group was officially established on Thursday in hopes of starting a union for fighters under the Ultimate Fighting Championship banner.

According to a release, the Professional Fighters Association (PFA) “will not only be a union of fighters, but it will be governed solely by the fighters.” The PFA is headed by a group that includes longtime baseball agent Jeff Borris, labor attorney Lucas Middlebrook and economist Andrew Zimbalist.

Borris’ clients in Major League Baseball over the years have included the likes of Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson and Curt Schilling. Middlebrook, meanwhile, is best known in the MMA community for representing UFC star Nick Diaz during his recent battle with the Nevada Athletic Commission, but he also serves as counsel for the National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA) and the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA). Zimbalist has been involved as a consultant for various sports leagues and players’ associations.

“It is the goal of the PFA to organize these hard working athletes so that they may collectively bargain their terms and conditions of employment pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act,” the release states.

The PFA has gathered support from players’ unions in other major sports, including the MLBPA, NFLPA, NHLPA and MLSPU, to help the UFC fighters’ cause.

"I have been privileged to represent elite athletes for nearly 40 years, and believe now more than ever in the benefits of collective bargaining to secure and enhance terms and conditions of employment," said Donald Fehr, NHLPA executive director and former MLBPA executive. "That is why I fully support and encourage efforts of the fighters to organize a union to represent them.”

Added DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the National Football League Players Association: “As a strong labor union, the NFL Players Association recognizes the need for a collective voice among athletes and supports the efforts of the UFC fighters to stand together as a team to advance their rights as working men and women.”

The release also includes quotes of support from former MLB player and current executive director off the MLBPA Tony Clark as well as Bob Foose, who serves as executive director of the Major League Soccer Players Union.

“The scales have been tipped in favor of the UFC for too long,” the release states. “It is time for the fighters — the one’s responsible for the UFC’s success — to receive their equal share.

For more information, the PFA’s website can be viewed here.

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