Originally blossoming in strength from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Presidential Administration with the establishment of the WPA, the Labor Unions and related associations were elevated to protect workers that had been taken advantage of post Depression. Fast forward 70+ years and we're presently facing another "recession" and another labor issue in itself. We now are being forced to deal with often mediocre work, the threats of strikes and in general, overpriced labor. You HAVE to work with these organizations, how to you make it work for you?
The first suggestion is to understand the purpose of the Union, ask questions and get to know the mediator. We're in a tight economy and the event business has been few and far between. Some work is better then no work and often they are willing to give into combining their labor with your non-union labor. Talk to the mediator about your budget, union labor can often be double the price of non-union and although it won't be the same price, at least there may be a way they can reduce your costs. In this day and age it's all about communication and the understanding of what both parties are trying to accomplish. With that approach, you will save yourself unnecessary resistance that could ultimately hinder your event. Besides, a blow up rat and picket signs isn't aways the best option for decor!