Andrew Yang, a former presidential and New York City mayoral candidate, made waves in the professional wrestling world last year when he openly called out the WWE for classifying its wrestlers as independent contractors rather than employees. At the time fans were learning about WWE's new policy that prevented wrestlers from working with third-party companies like Twitch and Cameo, and Yang promised that if he were named to President Joe Biden's cabinet as the Secretary of Labor he would be persuing legal action against WWE's business practices.
"Come on Vince - you've already deprived the folks breaking their backs for you of healthcare, security, recovery time, retirement benefits and fair treatment re: licenses and royalties. At least let them make a living off their own names. Many of them need it," Yang wrote last September in a message directed at Vince McMahon. "I grew up a wrestling fan and it's been sad to see so many of my childhood heroes pass away early. I'd feel better knowing that they and their families were being fairly treated - I look forward to doing what I can for the next generation of performers. I know how tough it is. Vince you'd better hope your old friend Donald wins because change is in the air and changes are long overdue where your corrupt labor practices are concerned. It would give me great pleasure. The people know."
Biden won the election, but Yang was not named to the position. However, on Thursday Yang took to Twitter and implored WWE's wrestlers to reach out to union labor attorney Lucas Middlebrook after claiming he just had a meeting with the US Department of Labor.
Had a call with the Department of Labor. If you are a current or former @WWE performer who feels you were misclassified as an independent contractor contact @lkmiddleb and let’s get you what Vince owes you. Been a long time coming but this storyline is real.— Andrew Yang🧢🗽🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) September 16, 2021
Yang then explained his previous lack of action was due to the Department of Labor previously being run by someone "very close to Vince." Eugene Scalia was the department's secretary from September 2019 up until the start of Biden's presidential term. Marty Walsh has been Secretary of Labor since March.
2 years ago the Department of Labor was managed by someone who was very close to Vince. Times change.— Andrew Yang🧢🗽🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) September 16, 2021
He also wrote to another commenter — "Big difference between a performer or two trying to get redress individually versus a large group with a Labor Department that is now scrutinizing contractor misclassification."
WWE's third-party policy has also seen pushback from the likes of Paige and Zelina Vega, and the latter was released late last year shortly after launching an OnlyFans account. Vega returned to WWE TV in July. Stay tuned for more updates on this situation as they become available.