Organized labor is having a moment in the United States, with union membership rolls increasing and collective action by professions ranging from writers to healthcare workers, and actors to auto workers making headlines.
The topic of a professional wrestlers union comes up from time to time, and seeing as he’s a member of the currently striking Screen Actor’s Guild, pro wrestler CM Punk was asked about the possibility of wrestlers organizing during his appearance on radio station 670 The Score in Chicago this week:
“Wrestlers should 100% have a union. And I’ll always say this, and I mean it in the most loving way — wrestlers will never unionize because wrestlers are stupid and selfish. It’s just the way it is.
“There’s always going to be somebody else around the corner who wants what you have, or possibly just doesn’t want you to have what you have. And they will do whatever a promoter wants you to do for less money. And that’s unfortunate. You know, the boys never stick together.”
It’s a shorter version of a take Punk’s offered in the past. And unfortunately, all the evidence we have says it’s a correct one. Historically, we have Jesse Ventura’s story of how Hulk Hogan shut down The Body’s attempt to organize the then-WWF locker room by telling Vince McMahon about it. More recently, we’ve seen wrestlers publicly talk about unionizing and even discussing the possibility with the Actor’s Guild (many of them do play fictional characters on television) only for nothing to come of it.
Now, since we haven’t spent time in wrestling locker rooms, we can’t 100% co-sign Punk’s “stupid and selfish” explanation. And we’re certainly not blaming someone like Zelina Vega, who did take a stand against what she felt was an unfair labor practice and didn’t see many/any of her fellow contractors join her in meaningful ways. But it continues to seem like Punk is right that a wrestler’s union will never happen.
By definition, it takes more than one person to unionize. And as with player’s unions in so-called “real” sports, unless the big stars buy in, any organization effort is likely to fail.
So with things like more transparent pay scales, time off, and healthcare on the line, why aren’t more wrestlers willing to band together and — in the case of main eventers — possibly make some sacrifices?
We know what Punk thinks.