independent contractor

Scott,

A follow up to my Union question.

We all know how now the independent contractor classification is abused today, but do you know when this started? The observer recaps give several cases where WWF wrestlers were allowed to book themselves with small promotions without tv (which should theoretically be what independent contractors are allowed to do), but it seems at some point Vince didn’t want his people working for anyone else period. Then there are those cases where Vince ( or HHH) uses someone without having them under contract (such as Luger in 95 and James Storm in NXT), seemingly bending the WWF’s rules for using (or at least pushing) wrestlers (whereas it wouldn’t matter for a local jobber just being used for a few matches like what they were doing with Brauny).

Other note, how did WCW classify their wrestlers? During the bischoff era they seemed taken care of mostly even if they weren’t used (hello Lanny Poffo), but then you had management like Bill Watts trying to force cheap per appearance contracts or encouraging talent to quit, which suggests those might have been independent contractor contracts (with some freedom to book themselves elsewhere like Japan or Mexico).

Any info you can provide would be appreciated on this.

The term seemingly started in the 70s as a tax dodge for Vince SR and other promoters at the time. The WWF never really dealt in contracts as such, it was mainly Jim Crockett who pioneered that idea, as well as Verne Gagne. Typically contracts weren’t exclusive, though, as that was a product of the TV era and companies needing to protect their investment.

  • Comdukakis

    copied from my post in the unions email farther down the page:

    Yeah unionizing seems a longshot since even businesses where collective bargaining makes logical sense are being deunionized or voting down unions. But the independent contractor moniker is both a misnomer and a tax/responsibility dodge. Vince wants to control his talent (read Jericho’s 3rd book where Vince got super upset that Jericho dare get a game show gig without consulting Vince and going through WWE), their bookings (none of the main guys is allowed to work indie shows), and yet not pay employment taxes, health insurance (he does employ more than the minimum for the tax penalty on the ACA if they were not “independent contractors”), nor pay for certain travel related costs.

    Try to challenge the law and you get blackballed and you get to deal with federal courts filled with business friendly judges or a state court in Connecticut that is WWE friendly.

    I guess to their credit I believe WWE does pay for treatment for in ring injuries now, but so-called nagging injuries from wear and tear end up on the wrestler’s dime is they get diagnosed as needing a knee surgery or something rather than a specific incident such as Finn Balor being injured by Rollins.

    • Timothy Byrne

      It is depressing that it is seen as ‘progress’ that an employer is paying for injuries suffered while working.

  • There are certainly advantages for businesses using independent contractors instead of employees, but hopefully those will be lessened with all the red tape cutting that will be done by the new head of Small Business Administration.

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