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McCormick Place

Chicago Federation of Labor, McCormick Place Unions Push Reform Proposals


(Chicago, IL) – January 15, 2010. Coming on the heals of legislation to boot out the McCormick Place board of directors approved by the Illinois legislature earlier this week, the unions representing workers at McCormick Place today rolled-out their own proposals to help turn around Chicago’s sagging convention business.

The unions called for a customer “bill of rights” for exhibitors, as well as greater transparency and auditing, as part of the major reforms that must be implemented in order for Chicago to remain a top destination for conventions and trade shows.

The reforms were proposed by labor leaders from the United Steelworkers Local 17 (Decorators Union), Machinery Movers, Riggers & Machinery Erectors Local 136, IBEW Local 134, Carpenters Regional Council, Teamsters Local 727.

Dennis Gannon, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said:

“No one understands the importance of conventions and trade shows in the city and its communities more than the men and women of organized labor. That is why the unions at McCormick Place have worked with management time and again to lower their costs and make work rules more customer-friendly to improve the experience for exhibitors. But the whole business model must change, not just labor contracts.”

The unions proposed:

  • A customer “bill of rights” that clearly delineates standards by which labor and management must work with the customers to maximize their satisfaction with doing business at McCormick Place .
  • Audits of charges and fees to help shine sunlight on whether savings are in fact passed along to customers.

Over the last 15 years, the unions have agreed to three separate rounds of major contract adjustments, including reducing overtime hours, reducing overtime rates, giving exhibitors the ability to do more of their own setup work and removing jurisdictional designations between trades.

“Just as they are committed to doing their job with the highest standard of excellence, they are committed to keeping these shows happy and keeping them in Chicago,” said Tim Foley, Business Manager of IBEW Local 134.

The contractors are the target of the union proposals, particularly the audits.

According to one of union’s lobbyists in Springfield this week, the contractors vacuuming up the savings generated by union concessions and refusing to pass the savings onto the exhibitions.

A lobbyist representing a contractor said they are prepared to fight any changes that reduces their take. Naturally.

Expect a wing-ding of a battle over McCormick Place booty.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and blogger at The Huffington Post, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.

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David Ormsby, Editor

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