Contract Talks Break Down Between Chicago Warehouse Carpenters, GES
Citing a difference in wage increase expectations, Global Experience Specialists said contract renewal talks broke down last week with the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Local 1027, who work in the warehouse on exhibits and other projects.
Negotiations had been in the works during the past month in “good faith” between the two parties for a new, 4-year contract, according to GES officials.
Frank Libby, president of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, said his group wasn’t willing to comment on the situation as of yet, but would be releasing a statement in the near future.
Local 1027 are warehouse contractors who do not work onsite at shows. Besides exhibit fabrication, they typically build registration counters, charging stations and other elements for the showfloor.
Talks broke off because of the union’s request for a 17-percent wage increase during a 4-year period and GES’ offer of a 15-percent increase during the same 4-year time period.
“We are standing our ground for our clients, for the industry and for the health of our business,” said GES President Steve Moster.
He added, “The No. 1 concern that organizers and exhibitors share with me is the rising costs of trade shows and conventions. Although a labor action is something we work hard to avoid, we should not give in to outrageous wage demands. It’s necessary to take a stand to keep costs down, especially in our industry’s current economic climate and as Chicago works to regain its prominence in the convention industry.”
Though the contract ended at Midnight on May 31, Local 1027 workers have continued to show up for work without a strike or lock-out.
Moster said the 15-percent wage increase for four years that GES offered was generous, adding, “The consumer price index is at 2 percent. Despite this, the union is demanding a more than 4 percent per year increase. We rejected the union’s last, best and final offer in order to keep the overall cost of exhibiting down.”
GES’ current wage increase offer was in addition to a 14-percent wage increase that was agreed upon for the three-year contract that now has expired, according to GES officials.