Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel say they have reached agreement with two major unions at McCormick Place, bringing "labor peace" to the giant convention center on Chicago's lakefront.
“Everybody gave a little, but everybody won a lot,” Emanuel said. “This is the worst news for Orlando and Las Vegas.”
Exhibitors have complained for years about the excessive costs and burdensome labor rules in Chicago. Under terms of the agreement, show managers and exhibitors will be allowed to perform their own work in any size booth, using their own tools. Exhibitors will also be allowed to operate, load and unload their own vehicles, and straight time hours will be extended.
Virtually identical work rules had been passed by the General Assembly but were challenged by the Teamsters and Carpenters in Federal Court. The unions said they agreed to the new pact because, unlike the previous agreement, they had a voice in their own destinies. Teamsters president Tom Coley said his members ratified the agreement Thursday night.
“They gave a lot,” Coley said. “They gave until it hurt!”
Don Welsh, the chief of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, declared that Chicago is now the most customer-friendly convention destination in the world.
“The restoration of exhibitor rights at McCormick Place without any future threat ensures that our customers will not only realize significant savings, but prosper as a result of exhibitors returning to their shows in full force,” Welsh said.
Karen Malone, chief of the Health Information Management Society, hailed the agreement as a new start. Her organization pulled its show from Chicago a year ago.
“We made a decision that the city was not in any way, shape or form competitive with other cities.
City officials say they have received assurances from local hotels that they will move forward with expansion plans which had been on hold while the labor squabbling continued. And convention officials say they can now compete against sunshine venues which had offered lower costs.
"The era of uncertainty is over," said MPEA Trustee Jim Reilly. "Chicago is once again the place to do business."