Best tips for shooting in Chicago: the scoop on Chicago labor unions

Venue requirements: Chicago labor unions

Conventions, tradeshows and meetings serve as an epicenter for quality content. They can be one of the most efficient means for creating video because everyone is in the same place. But before you start recording, make sure you know the union requirements for both the venue and the projects you want to execute. Or partner with an organization that understands union guidelines, like Production Craft, that can help maximize your spend.

Often times different rules apply for union labor which can dramatically affect cost and timing. For example, union crews work eight hour days versus ten, and overtime rates vary depending on day and time of day.  In addition, there are no half-day rates for union crews.

Don’t get caught off guard, find out more about working with venues in Chicago and how to ensure your projects run smoothly. We’ve highlighted a few key points to get you started:

Filming in Chicago: venue requirements and labor unions

Chicago event venues

Below is a list of major locations in Chicago considered union venues – that is, most times you “plug-in,” you’ll need to work with a union crew in one form or another.

– Chicago Hilton and Towers
– Chicago Marriott Mag Mile*
– Drake Hotel
– Hilton O’Hare
– Hyatt McCormick Place
– Hyatt Regency Chicago
– Hyatt Regency O’Hare
– JW Marriott*
– Loew’s Hotel*
– McCormick Place
– Navy Pier
– Palmer House Hilton
– Rosemont/Stephens Convention Center
– Sheraton Grand Chicago
– Swissotel*
– Westin Michigan Avenue

*Some, but not all labor may be union.

Chicago Unions

Below is a list of Chicago Unions specializing in Video, Film and Event Production.

– IBEW Local 1220|
– IATSE Locals 2, 600, 110, 476
– NABET-CWA Local 41

Chicago is a beautiful city and acts as a wonderful backdrop for creating video. Just make sure you know how to comply with union rules before you start your masterpiece, or, give Production Craft a call 312-829-0272.

Additional useful links include: Chicago Permits for FilmingIllinois Film OfficeChicago Federation of LaborIBEW Local 1220

Chicago Union Rules

Below is a listing of rules for Chicago Union Video Production IBEW Local 1220:


(*1) MDS/Multi-Destination Switcher or Video TD/Switcher – Multifunction Operation of a switcher with light engineering duties. Less than three cameras. Minimal shading, tape, etc.

(*2) Directors Premium Additional hourly fee applied for rehearsal and show days if more than two cameras need to be directed and switched by MDS or Video TD. Fee is not applied if client provides director to actively call all camera, tape and graphics cues and operator simply switched under direction. (*3) Camera – Multifunction Operation of a single camera record (in camera or to camera added record device at camera position) that requires interconnection to any external device (audio feeds, mics) without assistance from a Local Union engineer.

Pay is based on job performed.

Standard Time (ST) (Base Rate)

Up to 8 hours of work Monday thru Friday with a starting time between 8 am-12 midnight.

Premium Time (OT) (1.5x Base Rate)

After 8 hours on one ST day (consecutive hours).Saturdays and Sundays (except during hours described in next section describing Double Time (DT).

Double Time (DT) (2x Base Rate) All work between 12 midnight and 8 am on any day. After 8 hours of work (OT) on Saturdays and Sundays. On Workdays beginning between Midnight and 3 am double time will be in effect until 8 hours rest is given. Any day where hours on clock exceed 14 hours. All hours and on any short turnaround. All hours and on designated holidays.

Short Turnaround Penalty

If any employee is called back to work with less than a full 8 hour break between calls a short turnaround penalty will be incurred until a full 8-hour break is granted. (DT) 2x base rate for all hours worked.

Minimum call is 8 hours.

All hours are on the clock.

Minimum billing increment is one hour.

Meal Breaks A one hour paid meal period should be given no later than the end of the 5th hour of work. Additional breaks should be granted no later than 5 hours after the previous break. A supplied or catered meal with a 1/2 hr. break will count as a full meal break. If no break within an 8 hr call – one ST hr will be added.

Holidays New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, Easter Sunday, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve after 4 PM, and Christmas Day.

Travel Pay, Mileage, Per Diem & Expenses May apply to jobs outside a 50 mile radius of Chicago city hall. Per Quote.

 CANCELLATION POLICY Pay at scale as per contract. Cancellation with less than 24 hours notice = Minimum day’s pay. Published rates effective 1/1/16 – 12/31/16. Subject to change without notification. Prior written quotations will be honored.