P.S. on Mick Foley’s Position on Wrestlers as Independent Contractors

Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter expressed surprise at the previous item on this blog, in which I cited wrestler Mick Foley as having defended World Wrestling Entertainment’s position on its performers as independent contractors rather than employees (“Linda McMahon’s Unstoppable Political Machine Extends All the Way to Mankind and Doink,” https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/linda-mcmahon%E2%80%99s-unstoppable-political-machine-extends-all-the-way-to-mankind-and-doink-the-clown/).

Meltzer said that while he would have expected such a statement from Glenn “Kane” Jacobs, a well-known outspoken libertarian, it would mark a dramatic pivot from Foley’s own previous utterances on the subject. Meltzer asked me to produce the quote.

That got a little complicated. On September 9, in my post “In Response to Mick Foley on the Media on Linda McMahon,” https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/in-response-to-mick-foley-on-the-media-on-linda-mcmahon/, I linked to a post at Foley’s own blog, “Whatever Happened to Research?”, http://mickfoley.typepad.com/mickfoley/2010/09/that-time-i-metrachel-maddow.html, in which he complained about coverage of the Linda McMahon campaign. But Foley’s item is no longer there; he must have erased it for some reason.

Someone better than I at these things was able to dig up the passage about wrestlers as independent contractors:

“At one point in my conversation with Mr. Stannard, I mentioned that the issue of independent contractor status was more complicated than it might seem, and that he might, for example have trouble convincing John Cena to give up his quarterly royalty check in return for employer paid health care benefits.”

Once Meltzer was shown the quote (by which Foley arguably curried favor with the McMahons, who returned the favor by plugging his new book on Raw this Monday), Dave and I agreed that Mick’s logic on this issue seemed seriously flawed.

“What does a merchandising royalty check have to do with employee standing?  NBA players get royalty checks and are not independent contractors,” Meltzer noted.

What Foley might have meant to say is that it is difficult to get wrestlers organized effectively to demand reforms – with respect to employee status or anything else – because the top guys at any given moment, such as John Cena, are at least temporarily making very big bucks, are complete company men, and therefore doom any movement toward unionizing the talent.

Irv Muchnick

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