Guest blogger Jim Borman explains why the tent contract at Lollapalooza means more than meets the eye

Guest blogger Jim Borman explains why the tent contract at Lollapalooza means more than meets the eye

By Jim Borman

Why should we care who gets the tent contract during Lollapalooza?

Lollapalooza’s over.  But the Air and Water Show is just around the corner, Festival Italiana roars into Little Italy next week and summer fun in Chicago is in high gear.

Tuesday morning, across the street from the Hilton on Michigan Avenue, members of United Steelworkers Local 17 (the Decorators Union) told me that they felt that Rahm once again had ripped them off.

“July and August are slow months and we’re just trying to put some food on the table,” said one member.  Rahm gave the contract [to set up tents for Lollapalooza] to Ohio-based Arena America Tent for $10 an hour.”

The union representative felt that the mayor was unfair.  The Decorators Union bid at $27 an hour, the lower end of their scale to get the tent set up business.  He said that they have many stipulations including attending professional development so that they follow the rules and regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  As a result, they are more professional in ensuring the safety of event attendees.

When you attend a festival, don’t you want the tents to remain in the ground safely and not blow on top of you?  Especially when there’s a major storm like Chicago like we had last week?

The ostracizing of the USWA Local 17 from the tent contract reflects similar treatment of cab drivers and, for that matter, teachers.  Uber, under the auspices of cheaper fares, is sucking away business from cab companies across the world.  In some places, citizens have rebelled and civic leaders have called for the removal of Uber from their streets.  Many believe that Uber doesn’t compete on a fair playing field.  If they don’t have to abide by all the rules required by cabbies, they can charge less.  They may not be trained for safety or even insured.  Let the buyer beware.

As for teaching, a profession that used to require years and years of education–it’s becoming the golden goose for the politically connected.   To offer a “choice” in education requires a business model.  Instead of fixing what’s broken, the privateers want to rebuild education by funding private charter schools.  They hire Teach for America-trained people who receive a six week cram session on how to teach regardless of their major in college.  With the few exceptions of unionized charters, these teachers will be paid much less than union scale, they will work unpredictable hours and long days.  And they will fear termination.  It’s all in the interest of the “children” say its advocates.  Didley-squat!  It’s in the interest of the politically-connected who want to make money.

It’s not just about tents.  It’s about the Walmartization of the American economy.  And one never knows what efforts will be made next by the “Uber Class” to undermine the middle class.

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