Trade Show TalesBlog

There’s a New Regime in Town: Word on the Street — March 12 thru March 16

March 18th, 2012 4 COMMENTS
There's a New Regime in Town

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

A Fly in the Ointment

As you all know, I think EXHIBITOR Show 2012 was AMAZING. But it did not go off without a hitch. It had nothing to do with the organizers. They did a fantastic job! It had to do with the local union steward unfortunately.

Here is the deal. There is a new regime in the local Las Vegas union, which at first glance and given the economic hardships of the past three years would lead you to believe that positive change is coming.  Unfortunately NO. And to make matters worse, the union leadership decided to flex their muscle at an industry event. To me that is counterintuitive, but to them it made perfect sense. Let me explain.

As we always do, we hired an independent labor contractor. On Day One, our setup crew was approached by the local union rep and told that the two Classic employees could not touch anything and had to stop working. In VEGAS? Really! That has never been the case. You could always have at least one employee assisting, and there were three union laborers working on our exhibit at the time. When questioned, the response was — “Read your Show Book for starters, and secondly, there is a new regime in town and we know that the Exhibit Builders are the worst offenders so we are making a stand. The idea is that you will go back and let your clients know that Vegas is tightening the reigns.”

Again, this confuses me. Isn’t it the exhibit builders, exhibit industry vendors, and show organizers that help to make sure that trade shows are in VEGAS and other cities? Are we not sending bigger and better business your way every year? It seems odd that the union leadership would want to send the “wrong message” to your industry colleagues, especially when, after reading the show book, we were following the rules.

Like I said, EXHIBITOR was an amazing show. One that we should be very proud of, but there was one black eye. What have we learned from the Great Recession? Clearly not everyone in our industry is on the same page, the page that says let’s keep moving this train forward in a positive fashion. We want everyone to continue working, the industry to grow, but we can’t do that unless (at the end of the pipe) it’s the best possible experience for our customers, the exhibitor. If you treat your family like this, I am pretty sure you treat those outside the family even worse.

To be fair, after a very strong push-back by our I&D lead, the union steward did relent a little. But he was clearly not happily.

Sorry to vent after such a great week in Vegas. But it just baffled me.

Be well!

–Kevin Carty


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4 Responses to “There’s a New Regime in Town: Word on the Street — March 12 thru March 16”

  1. I am curious what did the show book say? It will be interesting to see how they handle the international crowd when NAB installs in a few weeks, lots of British stand builders show up every year with their saws and paint brushes and work all hours. That show has always been understood that employees with business cards can work on their own properties and there was a 1:1 or 2:1 rule for EACs/ union labor vs the imported installers.
    If they enforce a Vegas union workers only at NAB,there will be a lot of push back I can assure you.

  2. Ray C says:

    Perhaps it’s time to move the show out of LV. Show them the real regime doesn’t like dealing with idiots or sending our clients to deal with them either….

  3. Helen Richie says:

    After reading this, I had to look to see what the “rules” were. Since it was a Freeman show, I could easily look up the information. And according to what I found, any employee of a company could setup their booth as long as they carried company identification.

    Sounds like the union guy was certainly trying to throw his weight around. I’ve already warned one of my clients and suggested they make sure they take the “rules” with them and highlight what they can do in case this happens again!

    Wow – sounds like Vegas is the new Chicago. Thanks for the warning Kevin.

  4. Kevin Carty says:


    thanks for your comments. Its interesting…you are the 3rd person to comment on that very topic regarding NAB.

    my hope is that they do not try to flex to much and turn off many of those coming in from overseas.

    we will have to wait and see.

    as for what the show book said…here it is..

    “full-time employees of the exhibitor, age 18 and over, may set up and take down their own exhibits, with the use of hand tools, but forklifts or any other heavy equipment required, must be retained through and operated by the general service contractor”

    after going back and reviewing I was unable to find anything regarding any ratios of employees to union installers. it might be there, but I could not find it.


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