Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

More McCormick Place Meetings Needed After Leaders Fail to Reach Resolution

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Sen. Christine Radogno explains three options that are available to keep McCormick Place competitive.

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He came in a private elevator and escaped the cameras at the front door, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday sat down with legislative leaders and Gov. Pat Quinn as they look for a solution in cutting union costs at McCormick Place.

For nearly two hours, the group met behind closed doors.  With no resolution on how to resolve work-rule changes, more meetings are planned.

"The focus, obviously, is on making sure that the shows continue to come to Chicago and McCormick Place... it's certainly an urgent situation," said Sen. Republican Leader Christine Radogno prior to the meeting.

Changes passed by the legislature last year that allowed exhibitors to cut their costs by doing some of the leg work were overruled by a federal court. An appeal is pending.

One proposal to keep the convention center competitive is to make those who work at McCormick Place public employees.

"There's three different options.  One, we can wait for the court to decide.  We can do legislation or we can do negotiation.  Clearly the most optimal thing would be negotiation, and the governor has agreed to get them back to the bargaining table, but there certainly is the potential for legislation as well.  There is broad agreement that we have to make sure the work rules stay in place," Radogno said after the meeting that included Emanuel, Quinn, House Republican leader Tom Cross, House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and McPier Trustee Jim  Reilly.

Union leaders were not at the meeting.

Some conventions have left the city’s premier convention hall rather than pay the high costs to do business there.

Quinn has suggested he may call a special session of the General Assembly to hammer out a new agreement if the leaders come up with a workable solution for McCormick Place.

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