Carpenters in Chicago Deny Seeking Outrageous Raises

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL– Representatives of the union carpenters who hammer away at the Chicago warehouse of Global Experience Specialists (GES) said their wage demands were merely intended to bring their paychecks up to the same levels as other trade show carpenters.

The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters said June 6 it was seeking to win a contract for GES employees that was in line with the pacts covering union carpenters working for other service contractors in the Chicago area.

“GES’s competitors have agreed to the very same terms that the carpenters union offered to GES and which GES has summarily and consistently rejected,” said Frank Libby, the council’s president/executive secretary-treasurer. “We simply cannot continue to allow GES to enjoy more favorable economic terms than its unionized competitors operating in the same industry.”

Members of Local 1027 were still on the job this week. Their duties include fabricating exhibits and items such as kiosks and registration desks used at trade shows. They also keep track of inventory and exhibitor materials stored at the warehouse. The local does not represent union carpenters at McCormick Place.

GES said June 5 its talks with Carpenters Local 1027 had failed to reach an agreement because the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters was demanding a 17% wage increase over four years. GES President Steve Moster issued a statement that said GES was offering 15% and refused to go higher because it would inflate the cost of exhibiting at trade shows in Chicago. “We are standing our ground for our clients, for the industry and for the health of our business,” he said. “The number one concern that organizers and exhibitors share with me is the rising costs of trade shows and conventions.”

Libby said GES paid its carpenters $5.11 less per hour than other service contractors. The union entered the talks with the goal of bringing GES carpenters in line with their colleagues at other service contractors.

“We cannot continue to allow GES to enjoy more favorable economic terms than its unionized competitors operating in the same industry,” Libby said. “We have an obligation to avoid undercutting the other employers, to level the playing field and to sustain the same level of wages and benefits for our members working it the industry.”

Reach Steve Moster at (702) 515-5500 or smoster@ges.com; Frank Libby at (312) 787-3076 or flibby@carpentersunion.org