Earlier this month Phoenix Comicon made waves when it announced that it was going to make its volunteers pay dues to a legally unrelated nonprofit. After a massive amount of community backlash (and admitting that the whole thing was to avoid labor law issues), Phoenix Comicon has decided to change course a second time. Now, instead of using volunteers, the event will now be exclusively run by paid staff.
As a for-profit convention, this avoids any labor issues which might have cropped up, and is in many ways a good step. Anyone working the event will need to apply for a position, and if hired will be classed as either temporary staff or an independent contractor. Workers will have to put in full time shifts during the event as well, instead of the shorter shifts volunteers used to usually work.
Of course, paying for this is going to be expensive to the con’s bottom line. To do this, the event plans on reducing event staff by over 1000 positions. Now, with staffers working longer hours, this may not have a significant impact on the event, but only time will tell.
In the end, it’s probably a step in the right direction for the con. Using a third party nonprofit to staff the for profit event might not have passed any more legal muster than direct volunteers would have, so this may have been the only way forward in the long run anyway.