This past Monday was Labor Day, a holiday in America to celebrate the working man and all his accomplishments over the last century and counting. Most other holidays get thematic treatment from WWE, especially ones that honor the troops, which Labor Day does not (no matter how much mistaken friends on your Facebook wall want to insist otherwise).
Curiously enough, there was no mention of the holiday on RAW Monday night except for CM Punk mentioning it before walking out of the arena before his scheduled match with Sheamus. He took a personal day, which most fulltime employees in America have as part of their work arrangements.
See, the McMahons are Republicans, a party known for a lot of things, not the least of which being their aversion towards organized labor. No one in the party will say out loud that they want a return to the times before labor unions, where 14-hour days and child labor were the norm. Truth be told, I’m guessing no one, Republican or Democrat, would want a return to that because it would create so much tension between the classes that the nominal effects of profit increase would be washed out by a balking work force and potential rioting.
However, some of the things that labor unions have fought for over the years – guaranteed benefits, minimum wage and paid time off – are sticking points that Republicans have adopted for their platform on work relations. So, Punk being lambasted for taking a day off is pretty much as overt a political message as anyone might find in WWE programming.
It’s also the most insidious, because most of the people balking at Punk for leaving the arena (which to be fair, may not have been as many as it would have been in, say, Denver or Albuquerque because Punk could kill puppies and lace them with explosives to throw at an orphanage and he’d still be beloved in Chicago) would gladly take a day off if they could rather than do the equivalent at their job of facing Sheamus. Executives want you to work hard for them because they want to maximize their profits, and if you take a day off, you’re putting their revenue stream at a disadvantage. Of course, they’ll never frame it like that, so they hide behind the BS rallying cry of the American dream. If you work hard, you’ll make a lot of money and you’ll earn the love and respect of your public and peers!
Meanwhile, those same executives can claim they “never take a day off” because they don’t do the manual labor or grunt work that their employees do. Leaving their smartphones on is “being on the job” because they can take phone calls from the golf course or the $1,000-a-plate luncheon they’re attending so they can hobnob with lobbyists and politicians to make sure their voice is heard. Yes, sometimes the corporate world can be rough, but it’s not nearly as rough as it is for a guy working for pennies on the dollar compared to the profits brought in by the head of the company.
Vacation is more than just time off. It’s a way for people to spend the money that they earn over the year in a way that doesn’t just involve them paying bills or feeding themselves and families. Since WWE earns a lot of revenue on vacationing parties/families due to the massive scope of their WrestleMania weekends just for starters, one might think they would be more sympathetic to the working man. Then again, for some, political ideology is a disease that infects the way they run their businesses.
OF course, it’s more than just politics. It’s practice. WWE wants everyone to believe that their employees aren’t employees at all, but independent contractors. Of course, if that were the case, then there would be no problems with wrestlers coming in and going out as they please. Then again, ask a guy like Trent Barretta or Yoshi Tatsu how much of an independent contractor they are when they’re guys who could totally supplement their meager TV time and thus contracts with independent dates. I’m sure they’ll be happy to point out WWE’s hypocrisy.
Then again, this isn’t to say that WWE is a terrible place to work. I don’t know anything about being on the WWE roster except for what I’ve read or been told. There’s still something really hollow about bashing a worker wanting to reap the benefits of his job as not being as valuable as the idiot who doesn’t use any vacation in order to help the company earn more revenue/profits without seeing any proportionate benefits. That’s exactly what Sheamus and Miz are if those characters truly believe that not taking time off is beneficial to their well-being.
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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