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GES, Chicago Carpenters Local 1027 end labor dispute with new contract

A new five-year deal has ended a short-lived labor dispute between tradeshow general contractor Global Experience Specialists (GES) and Chicago Carpenters Local 1027.


Representatives for each reached a new five-year agreement that GES officials say provides a more acceptable wage and benefit package as compared to the union’s prior proposal. It replaces the agreement that expired May 31.

“We are pleased to reach a more reasonable agreement that allows us to move forward,” said Steve Moster, president, GES. “GES took a stand for our clients, for our employees and for the industry.”

While the contract terms were not disclosed, officials for Local 1027 sought an about $5 per hour hike in wage concessions from GES, which Moster said would have had a negative impact on the Chicago-area tradeshow industry. Union officials disagreed.

“The union is negotiating for parity with other companies, securing fairness for its members and the ability to continue to promote Chicago as a tradeshow leader,” said Frank T. Libby, president and executive secretary-treasurer, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, soon after negotiations had stalled.

The carpenters union’s contract proposal sought to gradually reduce what they claimed was a competitive advantage of a $5.11 hourly rate savings GES had over its competitors in the Chicagoland area for the last two years as the result of a past agreement. GES had countered with a significant rate hike of about 15 percent over four years, but neither side could reach an agreement.

“We have undertaken several initiatives to address the rising costs of tradeshows,” said Moster. “This most recent action was an effort to improve labor management, which includes negotiating fair and equitable collective-bargaining agreements with our union partners. When excessive increases are demanded during the collective-bargaining process, it has a direct and immediate impact on the cost of tradeshows.”

Union leadership halted negotiations on a new agreement on June 3, according to GES officials, but talks resumed June 14 after union leadership agreed to resume negotiations. Members of Chicago Local 1027 continued to work while talks were stalled.

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