The Exhibition Employees Union, Local Number 829, and the New York Trade Show Contractors Association ratified a contract in which both sides gain victories and claim a new era of cooperation.

In a major breakthrough, tradeshow contractors won the right to request workers by name for a particular job, and to determine crew size and assignments. This will be an incentive for union members to work hard, says John O'Connell, senior vice president, northeast region, Freeman Decorating Company, and spokesperson for the New York Trade Show Contractors Association.

Another advantage for tradeshow contractors is that the agreement establishes a common workforce, eliminating the problem of split jurisdictions. In the past, a worker who handled freight could refuse to help a manager with booth setup, for example. Now, all workers will be obliged to help with all tasks. Local 829 has also agreed that its members will undergo bonding. Union members have received wage increases and a longer, five-year term. The union's jurisdiction covers New York City convention hotels, the Coliseum, and the armories.

California Enacts Tradeshow Tax Break California Governor Pete Wilson signed legislation exempting out-of-state exhibitors from paying a franchise tax. If a company visits California for the sole purpose of participating in a trade show or convention, and earns less than $10,000, no tax will be levied. In the past, exhibitors were required to register with the state and pay a minimum of $800 per year. That tax was unique to California.

In related news from California, the State Board of Equalization ruled that complimentary hotel meals and drinks are incidental to lodging, and therefore not subject to sales tax if the retail value of the free items is less than ten percent of a hotel's average daily room rate.

The ruling applies only to California, but Connecticut and Florida are looking at the same issue, and "hopefully, this reasoning will spill over [to other states]," says Jim Abrams, executive vice president of the California Hotel & Motel Association.