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Andrew Yang fires warning shot at Vince McMahon: ‘The bill is coming due’

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Andrew Yang, the former Democratic Party presidential nomination candidate, now being talked about as a possible Secretary of Labor in a Joe Biden administration, is also a hardcore pro wrestling fan.

That could be bad news for Vince McMahon and WWE.

“I have a feeling that politics is about to start impact wrestling in a more real way than has been true in the past,” Yang said in a recent interview with editor Raj Giri.

In terms of specifics, Yang is big on the idea of tweaking federal law to allow wrestlers, currently treated as independent contractors by industry leader WWE, to be able to unionize, and Yang suggests that talents could join with the Screen Actors Guild because of the similarities in the business of wrestling and the business of entertainment.

“If you were to ask professional wrestlers, How many of you would like to be part of the Screen Actors Guild, I have a feeling you’d see every single hand go up, because SAG affords tremendous protections to other actors and actresses who are on screen every day and every week,” Yang told Giri. “The parallels are almost 100 percent, where if you’re a professional wrestler, you are inhabiting a character, you are given storylines and plots, in some cases you’re given actual lines, you rehearse, you perform in front of a televised audience.

“So, they should be members of SAG, and that would be transformative for the industry,” Yang said. “Wrestling has been in the dark in terms of it being included in things like SAG because of its roots, but if you look up at the reality now, I mean, you’re talking about hours and hours of scripted TV programming every week, and the wrestlers are the talent. So, by right, they should be considered for SAG membership and all of its protections.”

The recent flap involving WWE issuing an edict to talents cracking down on their individual partnerships with third-party services including Twitch, Instagram, YouTube and Cameo has brought the independent contractor status issue back into public policy discussion.

Yang isn’t holding back in what he thinks needs to be done.

“What I said in another conversation is that Vince has been getting away with exploitation of his performers for decades, and the bill is coming due, and I plan on being one of the people that presents him that bill and get some to pay it,” Yang said.

Story by Chris Graham