Union or Non-Union Venue: ILEA Quick Tips for Event Planners

Union or Non-Union Venue: ILEA Quick Tips for Event Planners

What to know before hiring event professionals.

There may come a time when you plan a large-scale event at a venue that requires union labor. In this instance, it's crucial that you work with an audio-visual company that understands what it means to work with a union house and knows how to provide the services you need while making sure union members also get what they need.

Here are some tips to ensure all runs smoothly in such a situation.


Union, Non-Union, What Does it Matter?

A union house is a venue that hires only workers who are members of a labor union, at least for certain services such as A/V production. You’re a/V company will have to follow suit to work with this venue and their crew. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that not every job must be handled by a union member.

It is critical that you understand your venue’s rules and your contractual obligations regarding labor. Failure to comply will cause confusion at the very least, more likely bad feelings and additional cost. No one wants that. If your event includes exhibitors, make sure they are fully informed about labor-related rules, too.


Don’t Assume

Just because your event is happening in a “right to work” state, doesn’t automatically mean that unions won’t come into play. That designation only means that employers in the state are not required to hire union labor. Many choose to do so anyway, especially larger operations such as convention centers, concert halls, and hotels. Make sure to ask which workers are unionized.

Also, if your event involves multiple venues in different cities or states, the situation may be different from one to the next. Furthermore, you may be working with multiple unions. The most common are IATSE and Teamsters, but you may find yourself working with electrical or other craft unions. Be sure to create a production plan accounting for all of these differences.


Choose an A/V partner who works well with others

Helping to determine who will do what is one of the most vital services your AV partner will perform because the way things get done directly affects the results your attendees see. It also affects your budget.

You need an A/V company that has both solid experience working with unions and a reputation for building good working relationships with them. It’s important that you involve them in your planning discussions right from the start. By doing so, they can provide guidance and effectively represent your interests with the venue’s union team. Striking the best balance up front helps to avoid problems or misunderstandings later on that could wind up costing you both money and headaches.

Union house or not, when everyone is on the same page, your event’s audio-visual preparations and execution will move forward efficiently and positively. It will be a good experience all around, and venues that find you professional and easy to work with will want your business in the future.

Jon Young is the president and CEO of Heroic Productions, an audio, lighting, video, and event staging company committed to quality, consistency, and customer satisfaction. Jon’s experience in the meetings and events industry spans over 30 years with multiple perspectives including meeting and philanthropy event planning to performance and production. Jon has been at the helm of Heroic since its inception in 2004, is an above average piano player, and takes pride in his ability to calm people down.

The International Live Events Association (ILEA) represents and supports more than 5,000 members globally – event professionals who do business together, share knowledge, nurture talent and progress the live events industry. For more information on how an ILEA professional can help you with your event, please contact communications@ilea-msp.org. 

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