Craig Carlson began in Local 2 as an apprentice at Chicago’s Lyric Opera in 1979 where he became Stage Left Assistant Carpenter and Union Steward before leaving in 1988 to study Sound Reinforcement at Columbia College. He then crewed in the audio department of the Rosemont Horizon (a.k.a. Allstate Arena), joined the Ravinia Festival audio crew in 1990 and became an audio department head in 1999. That same year he was named Ravinia Festival Master Carpenter, Technical Director and Steward.
Carlson was elected to the Executive Board in 2002 via the biggest vote, to that date, in Local 2 history. He was elected Business Manager in 2005 and re-elected Business Manager by acclamation in 2008, 2011 and 2014.
Carlson’s been an IATSE Vice President since 2008 and he chairs the IATSE’s 9th District which covers every local within Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri. He’s a member of the IATSE PAC Committee and he’s served as either President or Vice-President of the Chicago Entertainment Industry Labor Council since 2007.
Carlson was elected Illinois AFL-CIO Vice-President in 2013; a position typically held by locals with much larger memberships and he’s the first Local 2 member to ever be elected to that position.
Freeman Companies called on Carlson to be their Technical Director for the National Association of Homebuilders Show Opening Ceremonies from 2000-2009 and he remains the Technical Advisor to Ravinia Festival while on sabbatical.
Carlson spearheaded the purchase of Local 2’s first ever office, began a Journeyman / Apprentice Training Fund (JATF), organized the Joffrey Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Companies, negotiated Maiden Agreements for work at The Sears Centre, Lollapalooza, Charter One Pavilion, Toyota Park, Union Park and many more. He helped broker an agreement between Local 2, McCormick Place, Navy Pier, SMG, and the IBEW to help make McCormick Place Convention Center more attractive to production work. That agreement has created thousands of jobs throughout Chicago. Carlson has avoided short term deals and instead focuses on five year contracts to help stabilize the industry.