Union Labor: Avoid heartbreak, headaches & budget-break (and save money)

In Part 2 of our discussion about audio visual Union Labor, Chris Gerhart will unlock the 3 tips you need to know to keep your AV budget and event logistics on point while using union labor.

In this interview, Chris Gerhart covers:

  • how to understand your union agreement so you’re not stuck with hidden fees or unexpected additions
  • the dos and donts of booking your union venue
  • how to lay out your conference schedule so you avoid overtime and penalty fees



AV Travel Fees Video Transcription:


Lara McCulloch: Hello to everybody who’s online today. I see a few of you on this morning, which is awesome. Please say hello. Give us thumbs up!

Chris Gerhart: Welcome, welcome.

Lara McCulloch: So, this is part two of a three-part series that we’re doing, all of them are on union labor. So last week was about making sure you get quality labor and we gave away an amazing giveaway, which was your AV Technician Union labor scorecard. What are we going to be focusing on today?

Chris Gerhart: We are going to be focusing on the high level of union regulations. I think that’s an area where one of the big keys is really clearly understanding the regulations that the union imposes on the event. We talked a lot last week about how to set the stage for a successful event with union. Those regulations are different by union and in some cases different by venue. It’s generally different by union, and by union chapter.

Most often audio visual union labor is governed by IATSE, but there’re chapters in every city. So, you might have local 720, local 690, there will be different numbers, those are the different IATSE chapters. Each one of those generally has the same framework of their regulations but there can be variables and nuances to each city.

So, we’re not going to talk about specific cities, although some of the stories I have might pertain to specific cities, but we’re going to talk more about just an understanding of how the regulations work. You need to research that a little bit further and understand what the specific ones are in your particular city, where your event might be going. Hopefully, what you’ll gain from this is an understanding of how those regulations work and how they can impact your show and things you can do to head off the variables that can come as a result.

Lara McCulloch: All right. So, there are three different areas that you wanted to tackle when it comes to pre planning with union labor. What are those?

Chris Gerhart: The biggest thing I’d say on understanding the regulations, the key purpose of this call, it all falls into the pre event planning side of things. So, the three things that you really need to have a good understanding of are Union agreements, the venue booking and your conference schedule; the union agreement is the actual contract signed with the union.

We touched on this a little bit on the last call, but essentially if you’re an audio visual company or a meeting planner or whatever the case is and you have to enter into a contract with the union to provide the labor, separately you have to source the payroller who’s actually going to pay the union fees. You can technically do that yourself, I’ll tell you upfront, but it’s a headache. It’s not worth trying to save the fees that the payroller charges to try and manage all that yourself, because honestly what you’re getting into is actual labor laws and payroll laws and things like that. If you screw something up, the penalties mount quickly. So, it’s better to just work with somebody who already works with that union, knows their policies, knows their regulations. You essentially pay one fee to a payroller and then they distribute all the checks to all the union workers as well as to all of their various pension funds and vacation and medical and all the different things that they have as part of the union. So really, there’re two pieces on that union agreement, you sign an agreement with the union and separately with the payroller.

What we’re going to focus on today is the union agreement itself and some things to be aware of that can help with the budgeting and planning of the show. The second thing we’re going to talk about is how to adapt your conference schedule to work within the regulations that the union might throw at you. The third is going to be things to consider when booking your venue in terms of time and access times and things like that so that you can avoid runoff costs.

Lara McCulloch: What do you want to start with first?

Chris Gerhart: Let’s start with the union agreement. It’s going to be pretty quick and simple to get through. In most cases, you have a couple of options. Generally speaking you can enter into a union agreement that’s either a one-show agreement or multi-show agreement or an annual agreement. Usually that will impact the rates the union charges for that labor–the consideration from the union because they know they’re going to get more work out of this particular client, and will give them a little bit lower rate on that labor and that’ll help in the long run. The challenge is, if you sign an annual union agreement that generally covers the entire jurisdiction that the union covers.

So as an example, say in San Francisco, I’m just throwing out a city, this is the case in cities all across the country, but let’s say in San Francisco, if you’re going to a union venue in San Francisco that requires you to use union labor, you’re going to have to enter into a union agreement one way or the other. If you enter into a single show agreement, it usually covers a seven day span or a ten day span or whatever, and it’s for that show, at that venue, those dates specifically, and your rates are going to be a little bit higher. If you enter into an annual agreement, your rates are going to be a little bit lower, but what it covers is any conference work you do where you need labor where IATSE would provide that union local within the jurisdiction of that union.

So, usually an entire county, sometimes multiple counties. And even at nonunion venues… let’s say that you’re planning an event in San Francisco and you’re at a union property in April. You then have another event going to San Francisco at a nonunion property in December but you sign an annual agreement. At that point you are technically supposed to use union labor at that nonunion property in December. And that’s an area where the costs are going to escalate. And it’s not a requirement of the venue you’re going to. So, it’s not necessarily something you want to do.

Again, as I have said in a previous Live this is not an anti-union conversation whatsoever, but definitely, do your due diligence to keep your options open.

Lara McCulloch: If I go into an annual agreement with IATSE, I am obligated to use union labor if I hold an event in one of the jurisdictions that they cover in that agreement that was signed?

Chris Gerhart: Yes, if that particular chapter covers that area you would have to use the union labors, since your agreement is with that chapter. It’s not with IATSE as a whole. So, if you do a show in San Francisco and then later in December you do a show in Milwaukee there is no crossover in that one union agreement to the other city. But if you’re within another venue within the jurisdiction of that particular chapter, so somewhere in the county that San Francisco is in, that the venue would fall in, then yes, your contract carries over.

Lara McCulloch: Interesting. So, I’m obligated to use union labor even if it’s nonunion venue.

Chris Gerhart: Correct, if you’ve been under that agreement, so you know, but the flip side is that it does save you cost in the labor rates because you’re entering into that annual agreement. So, one thing that we kind of established early on was actually in many cases the audio visual company is expected to enter into that union agreement. We’ve actually taken a different approach to it.

The challenges for us as an audio visual company are if we enter into an annual union agreement with one client at a union venue in San Francisco, we’re obligating now all of our other clients that might hold shows in San Francisco to use union labor because we have to hire union labor if we’re within their jurisdiction. So, the different approach that we actually took was having our customers enter into agreements directly.

So, backing up because of that, because we will be obligating our customers to do it, we took a policy that we can only sign one show agreements with the unions because it wouldn’t be fair to our next customer in a nonunion venue to be forced to pay those rates. We would be forcing our next customer at a nonunion venue to pay higher rates. So, we took a policy, and I think it’s pretty common among audio visual companies, that we’re going to sign a one show agreement and, get through this event and the rates will be what they are. It’s a little bit higher.

Instead we took an approach of having our customers sign the union agreement, which is perfectly acceptable, and we still manage all the details for them. That doesn’t mean that they have to take on giving updates to the union house or anything of that nature. It just means that the customer is the one technically on the hook with the union as far as the contract goes. It’s less common for a customer, like for us as an audio visual company we might go back to San Francisco five times, 10 times, 20 times in a year and only half those might be in union venues, but this one customer may never go back to San Francisco for the next 12 months.

So, what we do is we actually work with the customer, talk to them about their next 12 month event schedule. And if they don’t have anything else that falls in that jurisdiction in that time then we would encourage them to sign a one year agreement to get the lower rates than with that agreement, and it will expire before they hold another San Francisco. And even if they do have other events in San Francisco over the course of that period, we then look at, well, is that next venue we’re going to union? Because if it is, go ahead and sign the annual agreement. Let’s get the savings. So, it’s just kind of working that angle to try and get the needs of the show covered, of course not do anything detrimental to the union and the agreements that are in place there, but also not obligate yourself to something down the road that might be detrimental to a future show.

Lara McCulloch: That’s a great tip. Okay. Awesome.

Chris Gerhart: So that honestly is the broad thing that I think to look at in how you enter into a union agreement is what you’re willing to sign on for in terms of the term and length of the agreement. That’s really honestly the key that I have to give as it relates to the agreement. A lot of pieces where I talk about as we get into the conference schedule and the venue booking are things that fall within that agreement in terms of regulations, which again is the key purpose of today’s call, but as it relates to the union agreement itself, that’s really the key thing to be aware of: what your options are in terms of the term of the agreement and ways that you can use that to your advantage depending on who’s actually signing that agreement.

Lara McCulloch: Awesome. Okay. So, is that what you wanted to cover for the agreement part? Let’s talk about conference schedule next?

Chris Gerhart: Yes so, the conference schedule: I think it’s very common for planners to, wash, rinse, repeat their schedules year after year. You get a format for an event that works really well, so why change it up. But there are significant and different considerations to take into account when you’re working in a union venue as it relates to the scheduling.

As an example, for us at nonunion venues, we have our labor policies and we honestly have them written very formally, set in stone as to when people need to get breaks and this, that, and the other. But there’s also just a general sense of we’re willing to work together as long as people are being taken care of. So, if you have a session that runs, we’re supposed to get a meal break halfway through our day and you have a session that runs 20 minutes over, no big deal. We’re not looking to beat anybody up over it and I’ll be honest, I don’t think the unions are looking to beat anybody up over it either. But as a general labor pool, they kind of have to keep strict standards or else it becomes a slippery slope. So, I get why their policies are the way that they are, but there’s much less flexibility of sessions running a half an hour over. If your schedule is designed to push somebody beyond a meal break, you start getting charged penalties, a meal, penalties and things of that nature. So, your conference schedule can have a massive impact on the way that the cost breaks down for an event.

The first thing that I would say as it relates to conference schedule as a planner: work with your audio visual company; understand the union agreement and try and coordinate a schedule that accounts for when the union breaks are. As a general rule, a union day is an eight hour work day. In that eight hour day, they need a break around the two, two and a half hour mark for 15 minutes; they need a lunch break between the four and five hour mark–that’s an hour lunch; and they need another 15 minute break in that midafternoon, around the six to six and a half hour mark for 15 minutes. Realize that those breaks were 15 minutes. If as an event planner, you can schedule your coffee breaks between sessions around the same time of day that those would fall and for 30 minutes you right there eliminate the need to push a union worker outside of the break schedule that they’re supposed to get. And then come penalties if they don’t get those breaks. Same with the lunch break.

A good story of this is we had a planner that was a new client for us. When we got brought into the mix, they had already established their schedule for the events. So, we didn’t really have time to come back in with them and try and rework it. They’d already gone to print on some of their materials. It was a set in stone schedule, but the agenda that this particular planner always worked under was a general session in the morning and then four rounds of concurrent breakouts and then a lunch break and then four more rounds of concurrent breakouts in the afternoon. The challenge that this caused was that the general session of four concurrent breakouts took the union to about a six hour mark in their day from when they had to show up in the morning to get all the equipment ready for the general session and run through the general session. Then breakout techs are showing up, getting all the breakout rooms ready to go. And by the time they get their actual break there, six hours into their day, the client has just paid an hour of meal penalties, which generally speaking with the union is time and a half for the amount of time that goes from when they’re supposed to get their break until they get it.

So as an example, they’re supposed to be getting $50 an hour for their eight hour day, but their rate for that hour from hour five to hour six is actually $75. So, you just paid $25 per tech per hour extra by pushing them beyond that meal break. And if you expand that across a crew with, 30 to 40 breakouts on a show and you’ve got a ton of techs on the show that’s not insignificant. You can be paying $250, $300 an hour quickly for that hour. And if you do that across a four day show, you just spent an extra $1,200. That’s an area where one small shift in the schedule could have had a big impact, because if that client in that particular case just shifted their fourth breakout in the morning block to after lunch, all those workers would have gotten a break when they were supposed to; then come back from lunch and they would not have run into any meal penalty or over time in the day everything would’ve been smooth.

Again, it’s one of those things that if you can make small tweaks to your schedule, you don’t have to change the broad format of your show. But if you make small tweaks to your schedule, you can have a monumental impact on the cost associated. Again, just one example.

Lara McCulloch: If I’m an event planner, what is the best way to align my schedule with cost savings? How do I navigate that?

Chris Gerhart: Well, I would say initially it’s a little tough if you’re a planner and you’re not really in the world of how labor scheduling works for something like that. If you’ve got experience with that you probably already would have an understanding and you could kind of start to align that. Working with an AV company that really gets it, that is going to be probably the easiest route for it and since you’re going to need an AV company anyways, that’s probably the path to take. But all these regulations and the timelines and everything are spelled out within the agreement that you would ultimately sign or that your AV company would sign with the union. So, having a key understanding of what those policies are, when meal penalties kick in, when meal breaks are supposed to happen, when overtime kicks in… all that kind of stuff is spelled out in the agreement.

It’s really about building your ideal conference schedule and then applying a labor schedule that would accommodate that conference schedule. And then let’s look for our weaknesses or vulnerabilities where cost can go up. One thing that we do and we do this for all events but we take it a step further for union events–we build a super detailed labor schedule. Again, because there’s some flexibility on our end for nonunion events we don’t make the schedule quite as detailed for nonunion because if we’re going to run 20 minutes over it’s not a big deal as long as the guys get a break. If it’s a union property we make that schedule so detailed that literally we say, here’s the time they need to report, here’s when they’re going to get their break, here’s when they’re going to get their lunch, here’s when they’re going to get their next break. Then what we do is we align the break/meal schedule to the schedule the event planners give us, and then we highlight it where times are very tight to meal penalty or they’ve already gone into meal penalty (We do this in excel). If we highlight a cell in red that tells us that we’ve already gone into meal penalty, if it’s yellow, it means that we’re within a 15 minute buffer of hitting meal penalty. Which means if a presenter runs over by more than 15 minutes, or even more than 10, because you have to then account for the time it takes to get attendees out of the room and get it ready for the next session, that’s an area where we’ll at least explain to the planner. You’re on the cusp right here, that presenter can’t run over, or here’s what will happen. You’ll end up with these added fees. I think the key to avoiding it or being aware of what, where your vulnerabilities are is an incredibly detailed schedule.

The other thing that we do that a lot of AV companies don’t is we’ll book their key positions for, okay, I need these guys for a full day, I need four breakout techs and audio engineer, a video engineer for a full day, or whatever the case is and I want them coming in at these hours. They won’t build in the detailed schedule to account for when breaks should be and then align that with the client schedule to know where they’re going to hit meal penalties, nor will they account for necessarily how long the day should go and they can end up running into overtime. At the end of the day. That was totally anticipated you knew it was going to come because the session started at 8:00 AM and they went until 6:00 PM. That’s beyond the eight hour length of a day for the union workers. You know it’s there, but if you don’t account for that in your planning, then you can’t account for that in your budget. When we do events it’s not to say that there aren’t meal penalties involved and it’s not to say that there isn’t overtime accrued.

Those things are driven by the schedule that we’re working on with the customer, but because we know in advance when we give the client a budget of what we’re actually anticipating the union to cost, we account for all that stuff. Which goes back to a call we had three or four weeks ago, about avoiding that scope creep, avoiding the budget increase is key. It’s one thing to know that it’s going to cost more and plan for and budget for it. It’s another thing to plan for budget A and end up with budget B, which is wildly different and increased from what you anticipated.

Lara McCulloch: Right, those are great tips. I love this. Is there anything else you wanted to cover on the schedule?

Chris Gerhart: Yeah, one of the things to be aware of in a lot of union agreements is the length of show and it’s an interesting one. A lot of events, let’s just say a common conference might be a three day show with a day of pre-con sessions or pre-conference workshops. Usually what that requires then is the crew coming in a day earlier to get everything set up and ready to go. So, if you’re at a three day show, a day of pre-cons and you’ve got a day of setup, that’s five days.

That’s usually cool with most union agreements, but when you go to a six day and then a seventh day, the rates actually increase as a result of the length of the event because they’re not getting what would be considered a weekend break. And it doesn’t actually have to be weekends, although many unions do have increased rates for nights, for weekends and for holidays, that’s all pretty commonplace in most labor practices. It’s something to definitely be aware of even if it’s a show: you’re setting up on Thursday for a pre-conference workshops are on Friday and your show runs Saturday, Sunday, Monday, that would all be fine, you’d probably pay increased rates on Saturday and Sunday because it’s weekend rates.

You definitely would pay increased rates for any late nights or anything of that nature, but let’s just say that you had then a day of post-conference workshops. Now you’re going into Tuesday, even though it’s a Tuesday, it’s not a weekend, it’s not a holiday, and it’s not a night, because you’ve gone to a six day event all in, and this case across every IATSE chapter, but in some cases, you’ll find that all the labor on the sixth day starts at time and a half, and then when they hit their overtime that they’re going to double time. Then if you go to a seventh day, they start at double time there are variables to all this, so that’s an area where looking at your schedule and saying, maybe this is the show where we don’t do post conference sessions.

I’ve even had clients before where we help guide them into consolidating their schedule, so they would format their schedule with general session each day and then breakouts to fill the rest of each day for three days. Maybe what we do is we help them consolidate the second half of their last day breakouts into the first two and a half days of the show. So essentially what they’ve turned it into is a two and a half day show and then they wrap all their post conference sessions in the afternoon of day three and that avoids going into an extra day of event, which when you count in the setup day and the pre-conference workshops and the days of the conference, that extra day is where you’d hit that time and a half starting rate. So, by consolidating the last half day of breakouts into the first two and a half days of the event, you’ve actually saved yourself an entire day where your union labor starts in overtime.

Lara McCulloch: Let me ask you this: I assume there are many cases when an event planner comes to you and they have a set schedule and you’ve just got to work with them that schedule, but they aren’t aware of the value that you can provide here, where you can jump in and really help them with the planning because of your knowledge of union charges and regulations.

If a client was to get out of your way and allow you to do what you’re best at doing, when is the best time to bring in somebody like you in the planning process when a planner is planning an event?

Chris Gerhart: We have an awesome track record with repeat customers. With repeat customers we like to get in literally when the last event of this year ends­ – we want to start working with you on next year. I don’t want to be in a position where we’re just getting your specs a couple of weeks or a couple months before the show. I’d like to be involved in the process to help head off scheduling conflicts that we can work through.

If it’s a brand new customer opportunity, I would say ideally you want it to be before you, as the customer have set your schedule in stone. Oftentimes that goes back to prior year, to probably when you’re in your call for papers, or if it’s an association type conference where you’re getting talk presentations submitted. At that point you’re still trying to schedule and who’s going to go where, what rooms are we actually using, when are we using them. In that phase it would be good to start working through as you’re building out your schedule for the event.

Using last year’s schedule as a template for this year’s event is a fine idea, frankly, in all cases, even in union cases, but I think there’s value in reexamining that every year and examining it in the context of all the variables of an event. So, don’t just reinvent the schedule to reinvent it and don’t just reinvent it because we want to change things up this year. In some cases, reinvent the schedule because it can have a massive impact on your budget as it relates to labor, reinvent it because we want to do something new and unique. Try and get all those considerations factored in when you’re designing that schedule and having the knowledge of somebody, like our team or any audio visual provider that you work with who really does get union regulations, you’re going to design a schedule that ultimately minimizes overages.

The reality is if you say to me, look, we have over three days, eight hours a day with union, 24 hours of labor, you can stagger start times. So, it doesn’t have to just be 24 hours. If you have your general sessions, go from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM and your breakouts, don’t start till 11, you don’t have to have all of your breakout technicians in at the same time as your general session techs in the morning. They can come in later, so you can still accomplish more than 24 hours without running into overtime and meal penalties by staggering their start times. Let’s say, for the sake of easy math, we have 24 hours of labor over the course of a three day event and the customer tells me, “listen, we have 30 hours of sessions, it is what it is, I’m going to pay overtime.” Fine, let’s pay the overtime but not meal penalties. Let’s look at where we’re going to place that lunch break, how long that lunch break is going to be. Don’t give just an hour to your attendees for lunch because your techs can’t get a full hour in that time, if your techs have to be there 15 to 20 minutes before the session kicks off to get the next round of presenters hooked up and ready to go, you’ve just cut their meal break to a half an hour, a half an hour meal break is a meal penalty still.

Now there are some things you can do if you’re doing a union event and you know you’re only able to give your techs a half hour break: you can provide them a hot meal. But lets be clear up front that is not ordering pizza for four days in a row and telling them just go to this break room and have pizza. If you go to the catering department at the hotel and get a little buffet put together, you can give them a half an hour and a hot meal and avoid meal penalty, or you have to give them a full hour walkaway meal break. We talk about full hour walkaway lunch and it’s only because it’s halfway through their shift. If their shift starts at 2:00PM, their “lunch”, is going to be around dinner time, at that four to five hour mark if they need to get an hour walk away or a half an hour with a client or AV company provided hot meal.

Lara McCulloch: Awesome. I feel like we could probably spend hours talking about this subject.

Chris Gerhart: Yeah, we absolutely could.

The reality is that anything we would talk about would be applicable in certain pieces to certain planners, and that is why this is a high level overview. It’s really in my mind meant to spark the thought in the planner’s mind: we should look at our schedule as we go into a union venue to try and avoid this. It’s not necessarily to take away from here, “Oh, Chris said, start your general sessions at 8:00 AM”, nothing like that, but more so, if we reexamine our schedule, we might be able to save some money or at least minimize areas where overages are or identify where our vulnerabilities are.

That’s one of the key things that we do, we identify those vulnerabilities and we try to work with our customers and say: if this talk runs over, here’s what will happen, if this talk runs over, here’s what happens. This talk is already scheduled to run over, can we move it? No, we can’t. Okay, here’re the implications of that.

Lara McCulloch: So that was a good recap. The third thing you wanted to talk to us about was venue bookings, what can you share with us there?

Chris Gerhart: This goes back to some of the specifics of the union agreement, this is applicable from a standpoint of setting your event up for success. Whether it’s a union venue or not, build in your setup timeline. If you have a session starting at 8:00 AM on Tuesday, October 20th, avoid booking the room beginning at midnight that night. All you’re doing is putting your AV company, whether it’s union or not, into a position where you have no time to troubleshoot things that can come up.

On an event where you’re running thousands of feet of cable and tons of electronics you want to build in the ability to troubleshoot if things do arise. But beyond that, especially with the union crew, you’re starting that crew, because it’s an overnight call, you’re starting at a time and half; you might be starting with double time. So that whole setup crew is running on no sleep, costing you a whole lot more, and incidentally you generally don’t want your operators for a show; your main video op, your main lighting designer, your main audio engineer; you don’t generally want those people not involved in the setup because they’re going to have to actually operate it. You want to make sure they know how it has been set up because there are a million ways to accomplish these setups. You have now asked them to work literally all night and now go right in to a session, so not only have you spent more money; because you have the overnight setup; but you’ve also to some extent set your show up for some level of failure. You’ve got people who are literally running on zero sleep now trying to focus and hit all their cues and follow scripts and all this other stuff. We’ve done it 100 times and I would love to say we won’t do it 100 more, I’m sure we will, it happens; but when you can avoid it, it’s definitely worth it.

The other piece of it is the cost implication, because the rates are higher. Factor that into making the decision to book that space earlier. I know that a lot of venues will say, “yeah, okay, we can get you that ballroom, it’s available the day before, but it’s going to cost you an extra $3,000.” That’s probably a pittance in comparison to the amount of overtime you’re going to hit if you have an entire setup crew starting in overtime, overnight and they’re working their eight hour shift, and part of that set up crew is your audio engineer and your video engineer who are then rolling into a whole day when the show starts. Those techs are probably hitting double time and now for the entire day of work, they’re hitting double time. So, the cost implications are not just what is it going to cost me for my setup crew overnight, it’s also going to be a cost that runs into the next day, hours into the next day before they get a break. So you’ve potentially set your show up for issues because you’ve got people with no sleep, you’ve cost thousands of dollars more and you’re running them into double time by the time their shift actually ends. It just doesn’t make sense when you look at the flip side of it, we’re already spending a lot of money with the venue, they’ve agreed to give us this space a day early for an extra $3000 or $5,000 or $10,000 or whatever it’s going to be. Weigh those options.

I’m not saying definitively go spend the money, I’m really not. It’s really about what makes sense for your event, if it’s $10,000 and the estimated cost overrun is $3000, maybe the answer is push people into a late night and they’re going to be tired and life’s going to go on. Save the $7,000, but be aware that, that’s an area where your show’s vulnerable, your budget’s vulnerable and you will potentially face cost over runs on it.

Lara McCulloch: You’ve touched on these three areas, let’s recap. What should an event planner expect from their AV partner when it comes to doing all these things? How would you round this all out?

Chris Gerhart: Yeah. I think the key for a planner is working with an AV company that is going to go into that level of scheduling detail and be willing to share it with you. We’ll share the schedule with any customer that wants to see it. In some cases it’s almost Greek, it’s just so technical. In our schedule, we include what each technician is going to do.

For example, one line on our excel spreadsheet is one tech. Even if I have four techs working on the same thing, they’re listed in four different lines, that way we can think through everything, maybe it’s going to take four of them two hours to do task A and then two of them are going to go off and work on task B while the other two go off and work on task C. So, we literally break down by the technician what they’re going to be doing throughout the show. We overlay that schedule with the client’s schedule to know where our vulnerabilities are for meal penalties and overtime.

I think a key takeaway if I were a planner would be, I want to work with a company that understands these regulations and will guide us towards the best solution to minimizing and mitigating meal penalties and overtime labor. If we can’t remove them altogether, at least help me budget for them, plan for what the cost increases will be and as a result see where we can shift schedules to help avoid it. Also, someone who is aware of where our vulnerabilities are… if this presenter were to run over we’re going to have an issue and what’s the implication of that issue?

Lara McCulloch: Okay, and then get your partner involved as early on in the process as possible ideally.

Chris Gerhart: Absolutely! We can get a client schedule, build our labor schedule, overlay it with theirs and tell them, here’s where you’re going to have problems. If that schedule has already gone to print or you’ve already shared it with your presenters, it’s where you’re going to have problems, it is what it is. If you have gotten your AV partner involved early enough in the process, you’ll have the ability to adapt and adjust to avoid some of those concerns.

Lara McCulloch: Amazing. Now we normally do a giveaway with every Facebook live that we do. Does it make sense for us just to recap those three main sections and the tips. Let’s call it the Union Labor pre-planning checklist! We really want to hear from you and we want to make sure that we’re providing as much value as possible. So, any other comments that you have Chris?

Chris Gerhart: No, I think that does it. Like I said, this was a brain dump for me, having a lot of years in the industry and lots of experience. This was basically the 30,000 foot overview of some of the key areas that can cause issues.

Those union labor agreements are pages and pages long and there is a paragraph or two on meal penalties, a paragraph or two on when overtime kicks in, but those are the areas that tend to cause planners the biggest headache, heartache and budget ache. There’s a lot more to it, but I think working with a really solid partner is going to be key in navigating that challenge.

Lara McCulloch: Awesome. Well, I really appreciate your time today, Chris. We’re going to have a Facebook live three of three. We have to schedule that date still, but you will be seeing that in about two weeks from now. Thanks everybody. Have a great day.

Chris Gerhart: Likewise, Thanks guys.

Author: lara-admin