The Culinary Union has been a thorn in UFC president Dana White’s side for quite some time. The Union’s efforts to block the UFC at every turn has been particularly loathsome in New York, where it has stymied the promotion’s efforts to open up the state to sanctioned mixed martial arts events for several years.
What really gets to White, however, isn’t the Union’s small successes or the aggravation it caused in the lead-up to this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 26 event in Boston this weekend.
It’s the Union’s manipulation of legitimate groups that are fighting for worthy causes and its political maneuvering that fluster White.
“What makes me crazy is how apparent it is and transparent, you can see right through it and they just don't care,” White said following Thursday’s UFC Fight Night 26 pre-fight press conference in Boston.
“When you elect politicians, politicians are supposed to create more jobs, they're supposed to do great things for the city, they're supposed to bring events in to create revenue for the city. They do the exact opposite because they are being funded by the union or whatever else it might be.
“I don't want to get all into politics, but it's disgusting.”
The Culinary Union's end game is not the UFC, but UFC co-owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta’s other business, Station Casinos, in Nevada. Station Casinos is one of the largest non-union casino companies in the United States, and the Culinary Union wants to unionize it, but has been unsuccessful in its attempts to do so.
In an effort to try and force the hand of the Fertitta brothers, the Union has waged war on the UFC, particularly in the Eastern portion of the United States, where unions still have a stranglehold over many powerful politicians.
The UFC and mixed martial arts have tremendous support – even from the majority of politicians – in New York to pass legislation that would legalize professional competitions and events in the state. The New York Senate has passed the bill to legalize MMA for the past four years.
The Culinary Union, however, continues to influence New York House Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to let the legislation die on the vine without a vote, as he did once again this year.
In the lead-up to this weekend’s event in Boston, the Culinary Union filed complaints trying to block the participation of main event fighter Chael Sonnen and to deny entry of minors to the event.
Both attempts failed.
Although it came too late to affect Saturday’s Shogun vs. Rua at TD Garden, the Boston City Council on Wednesday will vote on a resolution filed by council president Steven Murphy to ban minors from future UFC events.
Murphy has publicly denied that he knows anything about the Culinary Union.
“(Dana White) comes with some cockamamy story about some union in Las Vegas that I don't know about. When you haven't got the law you argue the facts, when you haven't got the facts that's when you call your opponents names, and that's what the UFC specializes in,” Murphy recently told NECN TV in Boston.
But White isn’t buying his denial nor does he support the idea that politicians should be telling parents whether or not they should take their kids to a sporting event like the UFC.
“This Murphy guy is a stereotypical politician. He's a bad guy… typical liar politician,” said White.
“Let me tell you this, if they vote that 18 and under shouldn't be allowed to come here, the people in Boston should go (expletive) crazy.
“These kids have parents. Who are you to try and parent these other people's kids? That's not what you were elected to do. You weren't elected to become children's parents you self-righteous clown.”
Yes, the Culinary Union causes a lot of headaches for White, but it’s this process of political wrangling that leaves him disheartened.
“When you look at how this country works, it just bums you out,” he added.
White is under no misgivings, however, that the UFC overcoming the Culinary Union’s efforts in Boston was anything more than winning a skirmish. The war will continue and there will be more battles to come, because the Union has its sights set on a rather large prize should its efforts eventually succeed.
“If they get Station Casinos unionized, they get $10 million more dollars a year for their union. Do you think the guys that are launching this attack, do you think they work for free?” posited White.
“At the end of the day, I really don't care. These guys are gonna run around, spend their money, but are they gonna shut the UFC down? We got everything done here that we needed to get done.”