SAG-AFTRA President Promises Support for WWE Talent

SAG-AFTRA President Promises Support for WWE Talent

On Friday, WWE announced that Zelina Vega (real name Thea Trinidad) was no longer working for the company, noting only that “WWE has come to terms on the release of Zelina Vega. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors.” WWE did not give a reason for letting Trinidad go, but sources claim that she was fired for launching an OnlyFans account in defiance of the company’s new policy on supplemental income streams such as Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, and Cameo, among others.

Shortly after the announcement, Trinidad tweeted, “I support unionization.”

This and other stories about talent under contract with the WWE having to give up supplemental income on third-party platforms thanks to a new company policy implemented earlier this year have caught the attention of the Screen Actors Guild. SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris recently issued a statement in support of wrestlers joining the organization:

“Wrestling is as much about media as it is sports, and we are going to directly engage with members of this profession to help find ways for them to protect themselves,” Carteris said.

“As more people reinvest in unions, and as more working people are harassed by employers who don’t want to protect them, SAG-AFTRA is committed to doing what we can to help professional wrestlers secure the protections they deserve.”

The idea is not new – former 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang has mentioned the possibility of WWE stars joining the Screen Actors Guild or forming their own union. He also suggested earlier this year that if Joe Biden won the election, he would push to have a case filed against WWE through the National Labor Relations Board.

Prior to WWE’s change in policy, dozens of WWE stars streamed on Twitch, playing everything from League of Legends and Clash of Clans to Call of Duty and Among Us and building fanbases. The WWE mostly ignored this as live house shows and other appearances were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in September WWE began telling talent that it would take control of their third-party platform accounts.

Earlier this month, WWE stars announced that they would be taking a break from streaming as the company implemented changes, but vowed to return at some point. Talent on the NXT brand appears to be exempt from streaming restrictions as of this writing.

Contract issues related to extracurriculars such as streaming game content are not mutually exclusive to wrestlers or WWE; many professional esports players seem to be grappling with this issue at present. For example, professional Call of Duty player and OpTic Chicago team member Seth “Scump” Abner recently said on social media that he was fined for playing Raid: Shadow Legends because his contract with the Call of Duty League required he only play… Call of Duty

“I haven’t spoken of this publicly really, but I was fined for playing Raid Shadow Legends during a sponsored stream. It was during the off season as well which makes it worse. My channels are MY channels. I should be able to do what I please, but apparently I can’t.”

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