At the recent Dreamforce conference field trip we were able to see the grand, towering exhibit displays and booths. The craftmanship put into these temporary displays can only be described as perfection. Majority of the exhibits on display represented multimillion dollar companies with the expectation they hired private companies to create these temporary displays. Suprisingly, all this work was completed by union workers. Setting these up requires contracts, following union rules and regulations, exhibitor protocols and more. Simply put, there is nothing simple about the construction invested in exhibits and booths at any convention throughout the U.S. The relationship between the unions and event management industry when it comes to exhibits at these conventions is that off turf war bullying .
Each city has different union jurisdictions. Union jurisdictions are negotiated contracts with the convention centers which limit, prohibit and specify what area exhibitors can set up else they must depend on the union to complete majority of the work based on stipulations in union contract. In any convention , common areas unions have jurisdiction over are : freight handling, electricians, carpet layers, decorators (fabric and furniture), carpenters (installation and dismantle of exhibits), stagehands (audio-visual) and riggers (heavy machinery placement and hanging signs), plumbing , food and beverage and more. This list blankets practically all areas of setting up and dismantling exhibits. As an exhibitor, you don’t pay for these services directly to the union but to multiple intermediaries. For my paper, I interviewed Candy Adams,
CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM, "The Booth Mom," an independent exhibit-management
consultant, trainer, speaker, writer, and an Exhibitor conference faculty member. According to Candy Adams, she recently exhibited at a conference where the union laborers were being paid $20 an hour but she was billed $75 an hour. The convention centers don’t explicitly share this information with exhibitors but she inquired with the union workers who helped with her exhibit. As an event manager, that is a 275% mark up for an exhibitor but one can imagine what the costs are to the clients responsible for the actual conference.
Because the union jurisdiction overlaps so many areas of an exhibitor’s display it is the exhibitors responsibility to be informed. Access to union jurisdictions in various cities can be found on The Tradeshow Marketing Network Group website. You can also locate the speciic union labor guidelines on each convention website. Therefore upon arriving on the convention center one should track down the “Exhibitor’s Bill of Rights. ” This details what exhibitors can and cannot do. It is important to also note, each convention site is assigned a union steward, who is the onsite union official responsible for monitoring all work at the facility. His job duties include looking for violations of ...