Exposing the myth

Why and how can an Exposition Service contractor emphasize they’re non-union and disparage bona-fide Exhibition Service contractors but then turn around and charge rates as if their costs of production are the same.  Why would you pay more for less?

We all know who these firms are…..no equipment owned, skeletal central staff and everyone else they employ is an independent contractor.  Temporary unskilled labor services and friends and cousins of friends make up the rest of the work force.  Again, why are you willing to pay full scale pricing and rates to a firm that is taking advantage of their work force (independent contractor translates to no benefits for the workers).  No benefits, no pension, no health care and yet…the pricing for exhibitor rentals is equivalent to the contractors employing highly skilled, full time industry union personnel.

We have heard it all…such as…their crew is better.  How can that be if they are itinerant workers with no organizational structure?  Of the thousands of industry people I have worked with, I have found that having Business agents, stewards, General Foreman, Show foreman and Lead men helps our production.  The workforce knows what to do and how to do it; they are trained in ALL tasks and jobs.  So I’m not sure why anyone would fall for the illogical narrative that by disposing of all the things that make the highly skilled work force better and more efficient…that the non union GC actually does a better job.  It’s just a repainting of a fuzzy picture.  It’s the Emperor’s New clothes.  Just because you believe your own public relations content doesn’t mean it’s accurate or even true.

What’s the risk to you as a show manager?  Let’s start with questionable ethical work practices……If there is an injury on the job at the work site, the “laborer” independently contracted can certainly throw your association into the litigation mix.  Why wouldn’t an injured worker want to seek compensation from the deep pocket association that produces the Convention while the non-union employer claims the worker isn’t their employee?  In this litigious society, why open up your organization or group to the exposure?

Just because you beg, rent, cross rent and borrow equipment from a Hodge-podge of suppliers and double sub contractors doesn’t make you a nationwide contractor.  Just because you do shows anywhere you can ….having a team of lone wolf independent sales agents (again…no benefits, no health insurance, no employee protections) doesn’t translate to a true national operation.

Independent contractors are not subject to minimum wage, overtime or workers’ compensation requirements.  Many contractors across the industry don’t hire employees for jobs, but rather label workers independent contractors and pay them by check with no taxes going to state, federal or local government. That undercuts companies that are “playing by the rules.”

California is the 1st state to have the court set up a three-step test, the most important requirement being that an independent contractor must perform work outside the hiring company’s usual course of business.  Companies will find it difficult to argue that workers are independent if they have to answer “no” to the question “If you remove the people currently classified as independent contract workers, would that company still exist?”  This ruling does not directly cover workers who are employees of staffing agencies and are contracted out to larger companies (i.e. co-employment or employee leasing)

Change may not be immediate, though. Unless a company, on its own, wants to reclassify to avoid potential penalties, it can wait until it is sued by workers or state authorities and then present legal arguments why its independent contractor model is still valid.

It seems unfair and disingenuous to preach integrity and fairness while blatantly avoiding employment regulations.  Making excess profits off the back of the front line employees while not contributing to the tax base properly, certainly isn’t a corporate value embraced by any association or organization.  So why support the antithesis of what you group stands for? The California ruling was seen as a boon by some workers, who have long accused companies of controlling them like they’re employees, classifying them as independent contractors, and giving them the benefits of neither.  Is this the type of services company and corporate culture you want to do business with?

Are you looking for a firm that IS fair and honest with pricing and employment practices?    Are you looking for a company that is a specialist rather than a firm that uses amateurs and neophytes?  Are you looking for a Complete Show Services supplier that has a proven track record?  Stop looking and email me or give me a call.  We’d be thrilled to listen to what you need and just do that for you better than the pretenders can.  Mitch Isaacs, Mitch@lvexpo.com, 702-248-6200, VP – Marketing Manager, Las Vegas Expo Complete Show Services.

Related Posts

Comments are closed.