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TNA Wrestling, Spitting in OSHA’s Face Since 2002

As a worker in the United States of America, you have certain, unalienable rights. You have the right to work safe, and furthermore, you have the right to be free from harassment from your employer to insist you have those rights. If you’re involved in any kind of industrial or field work – basically if you’re not in an office all day – you should know all this at least nominally.

Many companies have mandatory 8, 10 or even 40 hour training under the guidelines set up by the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA has protected American workers’ lives for almost 50 years now, so you’d think that everyone would at least be up to speed on their basic rights, right?

Not if they work for TNA, they don’t.

[adinserter block=”2″]TNA Wrestling has this reputation for being “worker-friendly”. Dixie Carter has a reputation for being a “caring mother” type, who promotes a lighter schedule for her workers as well as an open ear for anyone who has a complaint. In recent weeks though, that reputation has come under intense scrutiny, and for good reason… because it’s a crock of horse manure.

If you try telling Daffney that TNA is worker-friendly, I’d imagine that she’d spit in your face. The former WCW and now former TNA wrestler is in the process of filing workman’s compensation claims against the company for injuries sustained while an employee… err, I’m sorry, “independent contractor working dates” for TNA. Daffney was ordered to take dangerous bumps on several occasions, and when she got hurt, she got nothing from TNA. No wages for lost time, no coverage on her medical bills, nothing despite the fact that those injuries were sustained on the job.

I’m pretty sure the law states that’s illegal, but don’t tell that to TNA. This isn’t the first time that they’ve skimped on medical expenses. Konnan and Hernandez are two of the higher profile guys who’ve had beefs with TNA over their treatment of injured workers. Konnan left the company after they refused to pay his medical expenses for injuries sustained on the job. Hernandez got hurt in TNA, and he had his surgeries paid for by TNA. Sounds good, right? Yeah, except TNA didn’t outright pay for the surgeries. They just fronted him the money and docked his paychecks to have him repay the amount back to them. Basically, it was an interest-free loan, not coverage of medical expenses.

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You might argue that that’s what health insurance is for, but it’s MEGA EXPENSIVE to insure wrestlers as you would imagine. Still, despite all that, any other wrestling company pays for medical expenses for injuries sustained on the job. I’m not just talking about WWE either. ROH does. Most indie companies do. WCW and ECW both did. Yet TNA, who has more money backing it than any of those companies excepting WWE makes their talent work at their own risk, and furthermore, forces them to take dangerous bumps and work hazardous situations as a condition of employment.

How OSHA officials don’t audit the shit out of TNA is beyond me. Maybe it’s because they, like the WWE, are trying to snow federal investigators that their workers are independent contractors and not employees, despite the fact that TNA retains an unnatural amount of control over the outside dates their talent can work. I don’t know, but what I do know is that it shoots holes in this idyllic working condition theory that TNA sheep like to trot out.

Cageside Seats, another wrestling blog, had a few different posts detailing the case against TNA. You can find them here, here and here. If you read through all three, you’ll find out that Dixie runs her wrestlers ragged with a similar house show schedule that the WWE does, dispelling the myth that there’s an easier schedule than WWE. They allow performers to work impaired and have no drug policy to speak of, at least one that’s enforced anyway. It’s appalling.

The WWE by no means is a model company for safe working. I’m sure that you’ll find violations if you dig deep enough. It took them way too long to enact a drug policy, and even then, it’s questionable whether it’s enforced for everyone. That being said, they have a drug policy. They pay for medical bills and rehab, the latter even for guys who don’t even work for the company any more. Hell, Vince McMahon has even been known to pay for funerals of old wrestlers who died penniless. He’s a ruthless bastard in the business world, but he at least has some modicum of a heart when it comes to his employees. Other than the façade she puts on, can the same be said for Dixie Carter? I honestly don’t think so at all.

[adinserter block=”1″]TNA has been snowing its workers for years now, promising wrestling stardom in exchange for “toughing it out”. Meanwhile, the people they make these promises to often get the short end of the stick while the wash outs from the WWE, WCW or ECW get paid the big money. They’ve also been snowing the feds as well, and it’s gone on long enough. There needs to be some serious auditing going on, and the culture of TNA needs to change. If not, the company needs to disappear forever. Pro wrestling does not need a company that doesn’t look out for the safety of its workers, and no matter how soulless a machine the WWE comes off as or how much less in terms of funding that indie feds have, they at least do the right thing by their workers.

Why can’t the arguable #2 company in America do the same?

Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.

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