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Landmark Agreement with Riggers Union in Chicago Takes Effect in June 1st


Chicago – Freeman and GES Exposition Services announced an agreement today with the Chicago Riggers Union that changes key rules governing crew sizes and overtime.

The five-year agreement with Local 136 , effective June 1st,  allows a significant amount of booth work to be performed with two-man crews rather than three. It allows contractors to start their union crews at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.,  and pay straight-time wages for the first eight hours of the shift. Other changes:

  • Straight time will be paid at the break of the show from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. with overtime kicking in only after 8:30.
  • Saturday hours will be paid at time-and-a-half rather than double time.

Also new is an apprentice program, fewer stewards on the floor during shows, a “call by name” procedure as well as implementation of random drug testing to go along with standard testing procedures already in place.

Doug Van Ort, senior vice president of  Freeman’s central division, called the contract “the most significant labor agreement” between organized labor and Chicago-area contractors he has seen in his 20 years in the business.  Although the hourly costs of riggers will increase, exhibitors will benefit from reduced crew sizes, increased straight time and decreased double-time hours.  John Patronski, executive vice president  of industry development for GES, said both contractors have agreed to make a financial commitment throughout the term of this five year agreement “as part of our ongoing commitment to Chicago’s future success in the convention marketplace.”

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