Daley Urges Major Labor Changes for McCormick Place

Says trades should be able to hire their own contractors

By Charlie Wojciechowski
|  Friday, Apr 23, 2010  |  Updated 1:59 PM CDT
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In an emotional response to McCormick Place's challenges, Mayor Daley said the troubled convention space should get out of the business of providing additional services to vendors.

In an emotional response to McCormick Place's challenges, Mayor Daley said the troubled convention space should get out of the business of providing additional services to vendors.

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Mayor Daley threw his support behind the trade shows this afternoon when he issued his strongest statements to date about what McCormick Place must do to keep the convention business alive.

“[Trade show organizers] should get one bill for rent and nothing else," the mayor said in reference to out of control costs associated with the exhibition space during a stop a the Biotechnology convention Friday.  His comments come on the heels of a plan pitched by the center’s interim board Wednesday.

Numerous trade shows have been leaving or threatening to leave Chicago in search of friendlier exhibition spaces in places like Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida. Representatives have cited ridiculous cost overruns – such as a $345.39 invoice for four cases of Pepsi, according to Plasticsnews.com, a publication for plastics industry trade show – and poor service as the reason for leaving.

"No one wants to pay $25 for [a bottle of water]" Daley said.

The mayor pressed on Friday saying the McPier board should remove contractors from the equation, and that McCormick should be “nothing more than a shell.”

Trade show managers, Daley said, should be able to bring in their own contractors. That comes close to a reform agreement put forth by the McCormick Place board Wednesday.

Their proposal includes:
·    eliminating expensive union work rules by making union workers McCormick Place employees
·    eliminating the in-house electrical contractor
·    allowing outside catering
·    restructuring the authority's debt schedule
·    allocating market money directly to McCormick Place, rather than the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.

The Chicago president of Meeting Planners International called the agreement a complete game-changer, but Daley appears to support stronger changes.

He said without them, shows such as the Biotech convention won’t come back to Chicago.

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