On July 27, Pro-Wrestling: EVE formally announced an agreement with Equity UK to support the unionization of their performers. Equity is the premier trade union for performing artists in the UK. As a result of this agreement, EVE has become the first professional wrestling promotion to partner with a union.
Unions in wrestling past
The matter of unions and professional wrestling has been a debate for decades. In a US/Canadian context, unions have never been part of the landscape. Jesse Ventura unsuccessfully tried to organize WWF’s wrestlers in the 80s, for instance. As WWF became the sole superpower in the industry following the death of WCW, the situation for wrestlers outside the company became even more tenuous.
Recently, John Oliver covered WWE. Among his points of consideration was the fact that WWE wrestlers are without a union, yet considered both independent contractors and held to exclusive contracts.
Mexico is the only major wrestling market where unionization has truly been a factor. Until CMLL wrestlers started their own union in early 1994, UWA and CMLL were represented by a single union. AAA has had its own union, though theirs was rife with corruption at least early in the promotion’s existence. The 1994/1995 Wrestling Observer issues provide excellent information on the Mexican wrestling war and its relation to Mexican wrestling unions.
EVE and Equity
With such a spotty history in the industry, EVE essentially has an unpaved road ahead of them. British unions and labor laws are not US or Mexican unions or labor laws, and so how the union will represent wrestlers is still uncertain. Based on Equity’s reputation, it seems the wrestlers will be well-represented. EVE is a small promotion, far smaller than WWE or a major Mexican promotion. Their size means they are not capable of supporting exclusive contracts.
The details of how EVE and Equity UK will work together are still under wraps. That said, the language of the announcement does offer some information. EVE’s language seems to cover all performers contracted to their events, including the burlesque artists. Thus, EVE will cover the Equity dues for any wrestler (or burlesque performer) booked for an EVE show during the month of their booking. Access to Equity as a member will allow the performers to obtain accident insurance and legal counsel, as well as other benefits.
In the coming weeks, EVE will release more information on the agreement. You can read the announcement in full below, and follow EVE’s Twitter account for further updates.