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Are Trade Show Labor Rules Confusing You?

When starting to plan for your upcoming tradeshow, it is very important to understand the labor rules for your show.  When planning for your event, the first thing you should do is refer to the exhibitor’s service manual. The service manual  should include guidelines for labor jurisdiction in regards to union and non-union labor.  Depending where the show is being held, you may be required to work with union labor because while some Right to Work states are quite flexible, the rules vary from state to state and even venue to venue.  Some shows will not allow you to do something as simple as plug a light cord into an outlet, therefore  it’s always best to defer to show management so there are no issues.

Setting up your own exhibit

If your exhibit is portable and defined as “not needing tools,” you will most likely have the option to set it up yourself. These are often pop-up displays, banner stands, table tops, and counters. However, If you have an exhibit larger than 100 square feet, you may be required to use labor, even if the exhibit consists of portable components.  Always be sure to check with show mangement first!

Using Labor to set up your exhibit

If you require show labor to install and dismantle (I&D) your exhibit, you will use a union.  The show organizers will establish the labor rules for your event, and you are required to follow these guidelines when it comes to your I&D.  Keep in mind that multiple unions will be present, and depending on the state, duties assigned to certain unions also vary.  Outside of the union handling the I&D of your exhibit structure, you may be required to use a union team of electricians, audio visual technicians, and riggers.  For example, at a show you could be required to use the riggers union for setting up and rigging your hanging sign from the ceiling, but at a different venue, you may only be required to use the riggers union to rig it, and your labor team can set it up themselves.

Using an Independent Contractor

You are not required to use the labor team through the show/general contractor.  Don’t worry about finding a contractor for your exhibit, as that’s what Apple Rock does!  We have long standing relationships with labor teams across the country and world who have worked with us and assembled our exhibits for years.  They partner with us to get you show ready as easily and quickly as possible!  If you are using an independent contractor (as opposed to show labor), you will simply need to fill out an Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC) form.  This tells the show organizers that you approve using an independent contractor, who will be required to provide a Certificate of Insurance (COI).  There are typically due dates for submitting the EAC and COI, so refer to your exhibitor’s guide so you don’t miss the deadlines.

We are happy to help!

With 28 years in the event and exhibit industry, we know the ins and outs of labor on the show floor. We are happy to review your show schedule to determine your labor needs so that there are no surprises when you arrive!

Alison James, Event Marketer & Brand Enthusiast

Alison has been with Apple Rock for 12 years. She is not only an industry expert, but also an experienced brand ambassador for all her clients. When she is not working hard for her clients she is enjoying the thrills of parenthood, along with her husband, to their 12 month old son.