Governor Dan Malloy’s selection of Glenn Marshall, president of Carpenters Union Local 210, as Connecticut’s labor commissioner is good news for advocates of reform and regulation of the pro wrestling industry.
World Wrestling Entertainment, based in Stamford, is being audited by the state Labor Department for alleged misclassification of employees as independent contractors. Not very many observers think WWE’s wrestlers – whose schedule, dress code, and almost every other conceivable job condition are managed and controlled by Vince McMahon – are anything other than regular workers entitled to regular workers’ benefits. One of the loudest and longest proponents of this position has been former WWE performer and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura.
Marshall, who awaits confirmation by the Connecticut Senate, was a member of the bipartisan state commission on misclassification that drafted the law, which took effect last year, toughening penalties for independent contractor abuse. He is described in labor circles as passionate and knowledgeable about how the WWE scenario reflects on the over-reliance on temps, casual workers, and contractors throughout the “new economy.” This deprives citizens of access to affordable health care and cheats governments at all levels out of deficit-reducing tax revenues.
Several years ago a federal lawsuit challenging WWE’s talent contract, by ex-WWE guys Scott Levy, Mike Sanders, and the late Chris Klutsarits, was dismissed on technical grounds. But under Commissioner Marshall, the state of Connecticut seems poised to follow through on one key piece of government oversight of wrestling that could address the industry’s unacceptable and depraved rate of young deaths.