CFL News
September 12, 2011

McCormick Place reform talks advance, so no Legislature special session

Negotiations over work-rule changes at McCormick Place have made “significant progress,” and as a result, a special legislative session scheduled for Sept. 13 is no longer necessary

Source: Crain's Chicago Business

By Brigid Sweeney and Lorene Yue

Negotiations over work-rule changes at McCormick Place have made “significant progress,” and as a result, a special legislative session scheduled for Sept. 13 is no longer necessary, according to a letter sent to state Senate and House leaders by Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday.

“All parties involved in the discussions agree that a negotiated rather than a legislative solution is the preferable course of action,” the letter says. “Should progress on our talks fail to continue in the future, a legislative solution may be appropriate at a later time.”

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which oversees McCormick Place, aims to create new rules that would lower convention exhibitors’ costs, making Chicago more competitive with rivals including Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla.

A package of reforms became law in June 2010, governing how McCormick Place exhibitors, unions and contractors would operate, as state lawmakers scrambled to find ways to keep trade shows from fleeing Chicago.

But the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and International Teamsters Local 727 sued McCormick Place operators, arguing the labor changes, including allowing exhibitors to set up their own booths, invalidate their collective-bargaining rights. A federal judge sided with the unions. MPEA officials are appealing the ruling, but the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals denied their request for a stay that would keep the new rules in effect during the appeal process.

In July, Mr. Quinn said he would ask the General Assembly to return Sept. 13 unless a solution could be negotiated with the unions.

“We’ve wanted to talk since day one,” a spokesman for the carpenters’ union said. “There’s not much more to say at this point, but we remain optimistic that we can reach an agreement.”

Print