Conventions, once the realm of a few friends and a horticultural hall are now monstrous, thriving businesses. The advent of for-profit gaming and comic book conventions brought about an era of unprecedented growth and scale to the gaming/comic convention scene. Professional management combined with passionate volunteers produced amazing conventions and events. Everybody was happy. The production company made money and the volunteers got some perks for helping out.
Not that I am particularly prescient, but several years ago I mused that the volunteers might revolt once they figured out how much money some conventions were pulling down and they were slaving for t-shirts and a free badge. This conflict has come to pass.
Emerald City Comicon and WOTC both have pending lawsuits from volunteers claiming they are actually “employees” and should be treated as such. “Employee” is a very specific term that has responsibilities for the employer and stiff penalties for failing in those responsiblilites. There is real money at stake in the lawsuit, as there are thousands of potential “employees” that might claim back pay or fines. The article notes that San Diego Comicon is a non-profit, so it does not run afoul of these issues.
This article arose from an email sent today by Phoenix Comicon. Here is the full text:
Square Egg Entertainment, dba Phoenix Comicon LLC, Partners with Blue Ribbon Army Social Club
Blue Ribbon Army, a 501(c)(7) nonprofit social club, creates committee to organize and staff Phoenix Comicon, Fan Fest, and Keen Halloween
Phoenix, AZ December 29, 2016: Earlier this year, principles at Square Egg Entertainment and Blue Ribbon Army met to discuss a possible partnership for event planning, promoting Blue Ribbon Army, and offering added incentives for those currently assisting with Phoenix Comicon. In response to these meetings, Matt Solberg, Matt Hinds, and Jen Hinds collectively formed a social club and applied for 501(c)(7) status for the Blue Ribbon Army Social Club, incorporated March 15, 2016. Board members of the social club are Matt Solberg, Joe Boudrie, and Matt Hinds. Matt and Jen Hinds are the President and Vice President of the club, respectively.
The Blue Ribbon Army is a social group primarily dedicated to creating a safe, geek-friendly atmosphere where like-minded individuals can meet new friends. The Blue Ribbon Army, in accordance with federal guidelines for nonprofit social clubs, will charge membership dues, will host a minimum of one social event per month, will participate in community events, and will host fundraisers for its chosen charities.
One of the community events in which the social club has elected to participate is Phoenix Comicon, and has formed a committee to that end. Square Egg Entertainment will no longer recruit its own staff for its event production. Anyone interested in helping to support this event, and all staff for Phoenix Comicon, will be members of this committee, and of the social club. Participating on the Phoenix Comicon committee is not a requirement of membership in the Blue Ribbon Army, and membership is not required to join the Blue Ribbon Army Facebook group.
This change does not affect panelists, guests, vendors, or sponsors, though any of these are welcome to join the social club and we encourage corporate memberships.Square Egg Entertainment and Blue Ribbon Army look forward to a long and successful partnership and to our first joint event. Blue Ribbon Army membership information, benefits, and events are available on the website at www.blueribbonarmy.com.