Kris Statlander Talks about Unionizing Pro Wrestling
As a stuntwoman, Kris Statlander has experience with entertainment unions, and she discussed the push for wrestlers to unionize in a new interview. There has been a lot of speculation about the industry unionizing in the face of WWE’s ban on third-party platform use and the long-running classification in the industry of wrestlers as independent contractors, and Statlander expressed why she thinks it would be difficult to do. You can see highlights below:
On if the push to unionize is feasible: “It’s hard to say. Because it wouldn’t be like, just the major companies that have to work with [unions]. It’s not like there’s one big company that owns wrestling, you know what I mean? We have a few really big companies, we have a few TV companies all over the world, plus thousands of independent promotions. And to have just one person to have to set the rules and set all the boundaries for every single thing that goes on in wrestling, where even now in states, like in separate states. Some states you need a license in order to wrestle, some states you don’t. I feel like there’s so much — the business kind of just is what it is. And that’s how it’s been for years now, and it’d be so hard to somewhat change.”
On the issues of trying to unionize: “I think every wrestler sort of fancies the idea of being able to get benefits and whatnot, and get set pay and everything. But a lot of people that come into wrestling don’t always want it to be their job for life. A lot of people wanna just do it for fun, or have it as a side thing that they do. But with the whole SAG-AFTRA union, you have to become eligible in order to be able to apply to join the union. And the only way I’ve known how to do it, and how I’ve done it personally, is you have to get like three union jobs working as either an extra on television or get a speaking role on television. And you know, there’s a lot of background actors and people in acting that are trying to do that right now.
“And then once you’re eligible, there’s union fees, and the initiation fee is like $3,000, at least in New York it was. So not every wrestler’s just going to have $3,000 to join a union when you know, you can get paid $10 to wrestle on an independent show and it’s nearby your house and you have to just drive an hour. It’s just not feasible I feel, at the moment. It’s a great idea, but if this was like, if wrestling was brand new and we were trying to form a union for it and trying to establish all the set rules and everything, it’d be a lot easier. But it’s hard to change something that’s existed for so long now.”