Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang sat down recently with Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman on The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast to discuss the news of WWE's third-party edict that Wrestling Inc. broke earlier this month. Yang gave his explanation as to why Vince McMahon is able to get away with these labor practices.
"A lot of it, Nick, is that wrestlers are afraid to speak out, and I've had wrestlers past and present reach out to me and say that Vince has been getting away with exploitation of wrestlers calling them independent contractors while controlling their activities for years and years," Yang said. "A lot of it is just that they are a quasi-monopoly, and wrestlers fear that if they do try and unionize or organize in any way that Vince doesn't like, that it will never work again."
Yang has been very outspoken recently over McMahon and WWE's treatment of their wrestlers. He was asked when he realized that McMahon's treatment of his wrestlers wasn't right.
"It was literally decades ago," Yang revealed. "I was a wrestling fan from childhood in the '80s, and when I became old enough to understand a bit of how the rules work around employees/independent contractors' benefits, it was clear the WWE was exploiting performers back then, and back then, there wasn't much I could do about it I would say. I was just like any other fan. I've known for quite some time, and I think a lot of fans have known for a long time, Nick, that performers are being unfairly treated and mis-categorized."
Yang was also asked why the federal government has not stepped in on this issue as many of these issues are dealt with on the state level, like California's law that orders Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as employees. Yang explained that these issues are typically handled by the National Labor Relations Board, an independent agency that has gone through many changes over the years and has received scrutiny after President Donald Trump's new appointments of board members. However, Yang noted that the agency typically intervenes when issues are brought to them directly.
"A lot of it is that wrestling, for some reason, seems to fall outside the bounds of mainstream, political consideration, which strikes me as very bizarre. I mean you're talking about a multi-billion dollar industry that millions of fans tune in to every single week," Yang pointed out. "So wouldn't you be attentive to the fact that they are clear violations of employment law going on at any given time?
"Part of it too is that these labor issues tend to fall under the National Labor Relations Board, which typically intervenes if there are attempts to unionize that are brought to them or retaliation claims that are brought to them and because the WWE has such a stranglehold on the livelihood of so many wrestlers, there haven't been people that have even raised action with the National Labor Relations Board in order for it to reach a certain point."
Yang then stated that he would make WWE reform a priority if given a seat in Joe Biden's cabinet. He said that if Biden and Kamala Harris win the White House in November, then he would likely be in a position to get that job done.
"I would, and we're going to get it done," Yang asserted. "I mean there have been performers that have reached out to me, again both past and present, who have very direct experience and knowledge with how closely the WWE controls and manages performer activities while claiming, on the other hand, that, 'oh, no, you're an independent contractor, you're free agent. You can do whatever you want,' which really makes no sense on the face of it.
"I mean, we all know that talent can't do a whole host of things. So it's going to remain a priority for me, until this job gets done, and I'm confident that if Joe and Kamala take the White House later this year, that I'll be in a position to help these performers get what's been owed to them for years."
Yang admitted that he has not talked to Biden or Harris about this issue. He said that the main focus is to beat Trump and get Biden in the White House, but he reiterated that this issue will remain a priority for him.
"I talked to Joe and Kamala in the incidence of the campaign and helping them try to win," Yang stated. "I have not had this conversation with them no, but there will be due time, again, first things first, we have to get Trump out and win. But then after that, this is not going anywhere from my agenda, and it's something that I can get done, I believe, pretty straightforwardly."
You can support Andrew Yang by checking out Yang Speaks and Humanity Forward. Yang's full interview aired as part of today's episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.