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« | Home | »

An ugly, yet predictable slide for AB2100

By Zach Arnold | May 18, 2012

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As we have noted over the course of the last couple of weeks, the path of victory for California AB2100 to give MMA fighters real, legitimate contractual rights is all but dead. MMA promoters wanted no part of the legislation. As we demonstrated through agenda-listed actions in our ongoing investigation into the California State Athetic Commission (here and here), none of the major players were exactly thrilled about the prospects of AB2100 passing. In fact, we demonstrated (through public documents) that boxing promoters were working with the California State Athletic Commission (Chairman John Frierson, ED George Dodd) & DCA legal eagle Karen Chappelle to get some of the provisions of AB2100 that applied to boxing to be changed or eliminated altogether. In other words, you know which way the political winds are blowing in California.

So, the worse case scenario on paper was that Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who relies heavily on the backing from unions in order to keep his political career functioning, would produce some sort of watered-down piece of legislation that would be shallowly-touted as a symbolic win when, if anything, was a spineless defeat.

However, no one could have imagined what was conjured up this week as the newest marked-up version of AB2100. Not only is it completely useless for MMA fighters looking for help in obtaining more contractual rights, it actually is creating a road map that will more or less be used by boxing promoters (who have demonstrated heavy influence with the CSAC this year) in regards to how to deal and/or manipulate the way AB2100 works in boxing and what kinds of contractual provisions the major power brokers in boxing can use for deals with their fighters.

We’ll elaborate more on this in a minute. First, here’s the text of the latest AB2100 mark-up:

***

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to protect mixed martial arts fighters from being subjected to exploitive, oppressive, or coercive contractual practices that violate the athletes’ freedom to work and their ability to support themselves and their families as professional athletes. Therefore, it is necessary and appropriate to establish standards to protect the rights and welfare of mixed martial arts fighters licensed under this chapter.

SEC. 2. Section 18649 is added to the Business and Professions Code, to read:

18649. To ensure that individuals and entities licensed under this act observe common standards of decency, the commission shall, in consultation with the Association of Boxing Commissioners, establish a professional code of ethical conduct for mixed martial arts promoters and fighters. Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, upon receiving a complaint, the commission shall enforce the code of ethical conduct and may suspend, revoke, or refuse to issue or renew the license of any mixed martial arts promoter or fighter that it finds has violated this code of conduct. Violations of this code shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) Engaging in actions or activities such as acts resulting in felony convictions or convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude, sexual assault, ethnic or religious slurs, hate speech, or obscene language, failing to respond to a subpoena, or incurring sanctions imposed by a judge or court of law.

(b) Entering into a promotional contract in California, or into a contract for a contest to take place in California, with a mixed martial arts fighter licensed in the State of California if the contract contains one or more coercive provisions. For purposes of this section, a coercive contract provision includes, but is not limited to, a provision that does any of the following:

(1) Is for a period exceeding five years.
(2) Automatically extends the term or conditions of the contract.
(3) Requires a party to negotiate exclusively with the other party.
(4) Grants a party the right to match the term of an offer.
(5) Grants a party unrestricted rights to use the identity of the other party.

SEC. 3. Section 18849 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

18849. (a) No promoter licensed in the State of California, nor any person having a proprietary interest in the promoter, shall have, either directly or indirectly, any proprietary interest in a boxer or martial arts fighter competing on the premises owned, leased, or rented by the promoter without written approval from the commission.

(b) No promoter licensed in the State of California shall be entitled to receive any compensation directly or indirectly in connection with a contest until the promoter provides to the commission the following:

(1) A copy of any written agreement to which the promoter is a party with any professional athlete or contestant licensed under this act.

(2) A statement, made under penalty of perjury, that there are no other agreements, written or oral, between the promoter and the athlete with respect to that contest.

(3) All fees, charges, and expenses that will be assessed by or through the promoter on the athlete participating in the event, including any portion of the athlete’s purse that the promoter will receive.

(4) Any reduction in the athlete’s purse contrary to a previous agreement between the promoter and the athlete.

(c) Neither the commission nor any person acting on its behalf may disclose to the public any agreement furnished by a promoter under this section except to the extent required to comply with an order in a legal, administrative, or judicial proceeding.

SEC. 4. The Legislature finds and declares that Section 3 of this act, which amends Section 18849 of the Business and Professions Code, imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies within the meaning of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution. Pursuant to that constitutional provision, the Legislature makes the following findings to demonstrate the interest protected by this limitation and the need for protecting that interest:

The Legislature finds and declares that the limitation upon the disclosure of contracts between promoters and mixed martial arts fighters is necessary to protect proprietary business and trade secret information.

SEC. 5. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution.

***

As our ongoing California State Athletic Commission investigation has demonstrated, it has been the major players in boxing — and not Zuffa — that has influenced the way things have gone for AB2100. After all, why would boxing promoters want to see strong MMA contractual provisions in AB2100 that could then be emulated for their industry?

As proof positive of how one boxing promoter in particular (Golden Boy) made quick work of Assemblyman Alejo, here’s text of a letter that Oscar De La Hoya sent to Assemblyman Alejo & Felipe Fuentes (dated Tuesday, May 15th):

On behalf of Golden Boy Promotions, we are writing to oppose AB 2100 as proposed to be amended.

Golden Boy Promotions is a California-based company with dozens of California-based fighters under contract. We are proud to host events in our home state and proud of the opportunities we offer our fighters. However, we are concerned that AB 2100 (Alejo) will weaken California as a boxing state and will diminish the opportunities available to athletes in combat sports.

We are concerned that the bill gives the Commission the authority to disrput legal contracts between promoters and fighters. Prohibiting certain contracting relationships between fighters and promoters will do nothing to enhance the sport of boxing or offer further protection to fighters.

Over the years we have worked with the Commission to make California one of the nation’s leading boxing states. We are home to a robust training ground for young fighters and maintain one of the best health and safety records in the world. California’s Commission is the most active in the country and already takes steps to ensure contract terms are well-understood.

We have worked with the COmmission over the years to fulfill its mandate to attract boxing events to California. Unfortunately, AB 2100 takes the state in the wrong direction. The bill simply makes California an unattractive place to host boxing and MMA events and we must respectfully oppose.

Sincerely,

Oscar De La Hoya
626 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 350 * Los Angeles, California 90017 * Tel: (213) 489-5631 * Fax (213) 489-4057

After the latest AB2100 mark-up, expect any and all of the original AB2100 supporters to back away. In a perverse manner, killing AB2100 would be a best-case scenario and passing whatever AB2100 amendments are now would be a worst-case scenario.

The critical element missing from AB2100 is that, after the April 25th Sacramento hearing, the proposed amendments moved the coercive contractual protections from a statutory basis, to a “code of ethical conduct” enforceable solely by and at the discretion of the Commission. With this change, fighters have no legal mechanism to enforce the protections on their own and the amendments do not provide a private right of action.

So, what did Assemblyman Alejo do? By using an “ethical code of conduct,” he removed what remaining teeth AB 2100 had, and left enforcement solely with CSAC which “may” sanction violators.

Translation: The Commission doesn’t have to review contracts on a mandatory basis, only a selective basis. Given their current actions in regards to easing AB2100 hurdles for boxing promoters (such as everyone having to be present for the signing of a contract), the CSAC isn’t interested in chasing away promoters given that the Chairman is “Mr. We Want Business” and Karen Chappelle is at DCA. Remember, The Los Angeles Times named Chappelle as reportedly approving now-CSAC member Brian Edwards and company from The Contender tax breaks to film their reality TV show in California.

AB 2100 doesn’t adopt statutory protections, it merely requires CSAC to adopt and enforce, as it may, a “code of conduct.” Assemblyman Alejo can now claim that his amendments won’t cost California any money because there’s no teeth to any sort of legal intervention to help a fighter who has a contractual dispute with a promoter.

Conclusion: Put this all together and what you have is an utter waste of everyone’s time by Luis Alejo, who will have a hard time spinning his way out of this battle with the unions that backed him on this matter. The Emperor has no clothes here.

As for what’s next for unions pursuing legislation to get MMA fighters more contractual rights, the only avenue in the future is on the Federal level. If the Republican Party takes over the US Senate in 2013, Senator John McCain could be the man who unions try to embrace for such a political battle. If the US Senate stays in Democratic Party hands in 2013, there’s no way the unions will be able to get any such political battle going given that Senator Harry Reid of Nevada (along with Chuck Schumer of New York) are backers of the UFC.

Once the dust is settled over Assemblyman Alejo’s AB2100 charade, the real story ongoing in California is the behavior of the California State Athletic Commission and two major boxing promoters (Golden Boy & Dan Goossen). With Governor Jerry Brown’s best friend (John Frierson) as Chairman, Karen Chappelle at DCA, Brian Edwards & Linda Forster on the CSAC board, and Executive Director George Dodd dealing with multiple headaches as the Commission faces a sunset hearing report date in the State Senate, expect a lot of political maneuvering to happen over the next six months.

Losing the Andre Berto/Victor Ortiz fight today was a financial blow for the current administration at the CSAC.

Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 4 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

4 Responses to “An ugly, yet predictable slide for AB2100”

  1. Fluyid says:

    What’s this got to do with Jon Jones and drunk driving?

    Just kidding.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Will the real Jon Jones please stand up!! lol

      I never understood the whole DUI thing. Call a cab. Or don’t drink when you have to drive.

      I was drunk many times in my youth and never once drove while drunk. It’s not that hard of a concept to get.

      He did crash at like 5am in the morning. Anytime I am driving on a Thurs, Fri, or Sat night after 11pm, I assume everybody else on the road is trashed…..

      • Zach Arnold says:

        Jon Jones has enough coin to hire someone to drive for him.

        For those who think this is a silly concept, the NFL has a program where players can call for a ride in order to avoid a DUI situation. It’s a worthy idea and maybe some good can come out of what happened here with Jones.

        I would advise a little caution on this DUI story until we hear more about the alcohol levels in the Monday report. If the data reveals that Jones was excessively drinking, then he’ll get the verbal tongue-lashing from everyone that he deserves. If it’s a close call or the levels vindicate Jones, then I think the rush to judgment here won’t look good for the media.

        That said, this is not the first car accident Jones has been involved in. He’s an athlete with amazingly talented gifts & skill and when you’re that age, you think you are invincible.

        • Dave says:

          I don’t understand what there is to be cautious about here.

          Even if he wasn’t completely shit-faced drunk, all reports are talking about a DUI. If, for some reason, he swerved to avoid a pedestrian or anything like that, don’t you think his personal spindoctors as well as the UFC’s would be out in full force doing a hard sell on this story?

          Instead it is silence and “we stand behind our client” when absolutely no claims from him have been made towards innocence or guilt.

          The fact is, no matter what, Jon Jones got into a one-car accident where he hit a pole and totaled his car. The chances are that he was doing something reckless to get into that accident and was putting himself and other people in danger. It could be drinking, drugs (c’mon, let’s stop pretending like we all don’t know the stories), texting, I don’t care. No matter what, he was doing something dangerous and stupid and he probably deserves to be scolded for it.

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