CFL News
October 01, 2012

Two major trade shows extend McCormick Place commitments

Labor's efforts continue to bring trade shows to McCormick Place

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

By Fran Spielman

Two of the nation’s most prestigious and lucrative trade shows have re-upped at McCormick Place, thanks to two rounds of work-rule changes that made the convention center, as one official put it, “beyond competitive.”

The combined National Restaurant Association and Hotel-Motel Show has signed a five-year extension that will keep the show that had threatened to leave Chicago at McCormick Place from 2017 through 2021.

The show is expected to result in “direct expenditures” of more than $600 million through 2020 and put roughly 1,650 union members to work in each of those years.

The National Restaurant Association show was bumped earlier this year to another date to make way for the NATO summit. The show got a multi-million dollar settlement from the city as compensation for the inconvenience and added cost.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show signed on for two more years — in 2018 and 2020. That’s expected to result in $346 million in direct spending and 2,000 union jobs in each of those two years.

During a news conference Monday at McCormick Place, Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, credited two rounds of cost-cutting work-rule changes.

“Continued cooperation from Chicago’s labor unions have made this agreement possible and have also fueled significant growth in our use of exhibitor space. We had a 12.5 percent increase over 2010 just this last year,” Sweeney said.

“Chicago is much more exhibitor-friendly, more hassle-free and more cost-effective as a convention and trade-show destination...With the new exhibitor rights, our customers will realize substantial savings, which will enhance our ability to attract an even greater number of exhibitors and attendees from across the United States and around the world.”

The 2012 Association for Manufacturing Technology show that moved the last of its 40 million pounds of heavy equipment out of the building just six days ago covered 1.248 million square feet of exhibition space by 1,909 companies. Total registration for the six-day event was 100,200, a 21.6 percent increase over 2010. It was the first time in 12 years that the show had topped the 100,000 registration mark.

“That’s a terrific sign for both the health of the trade show industry and the health of the manufacturing industry as we go forward,” said Peter Eelman, vice president of exhibitions and communications for the Association for Manufacturing Technology.

“We’ve been here since 1947 and we like it here. So, we’re gonna stay. For our cycle, which is an every-other-year show, we’re extending through 2018 and 2020.”

Emanuel noted that next week will mark the one-year anniversary of the decision by the Carpenters and Teamsters Unions to drop their lawsuit, come to the bargaining table and agree to cost-cutting work-rule changes mandated by the state General Assembly, but overturned by a federal judge.

Union leaders will celebrate the anniversary by joining McCormick Place officials on a “road show” to Washington, D.C., and San Francisco to market Chicago and sell the cost cuts to exhibitors.

“That is a direct contrast to what has happened in the past for McCormick Place. . .The first question that a lot of the associations ask is, `Are costs gonna get under control? Are you gonna remove the lawsuits? Are you gonna continue to have the conflict where McCormick Place is cost-prohbitive for our shows, our industry or our association?’“ the mayor said.

“The fact that labor is gonna be on that marketing tour and be there in front of everybody is gonna give them the certainty to choose Chicago. It’s that new relationship, that new partnership that has made McCormick Place and Chicago that much more competitive against Orlando and Vegas for attracting the type of shows that drive 85,000 jobs here in Chicago.”

On the heels of the wildly-successful Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, Emanuel noted that Chicago restaurants and hotels will be booked to capacity again this weekend with the Chicago Marathon, the Notre Dame vs. Miami football game at Soldier Field and with the graphics show that will bring 30,000 attendees and $50 million worth of economic activity to McCormick Place.

“It is agreements like this with these two shows [that explain] why Chicago has doubled hotel construction with up to 1,400 additional rooms to be built this year. . .It gives the hotel industry the type of certainty they need to expand,” he said.

Two rounds of work-rule changes have changed the economic landscape at McCormick Place and made Chicago more competitive against hard-charging convention cities like Las Vegas, Orlando and Atlanta.

The changes that Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn brokered with the Teamsters and Carpenters Unions allowed the McPier Authority to create an “exhibitors bill of rights” that lets show managers and exhibitors set up their own booths with simple tools.

Exhibitors also can drive and unload their own vehicles at McCormick Place, and union work can be done by two-person crews instead of the old three-person minimum.

John Coli, president of Teamsters Joint Council 25, has said his members “gave ‘til it hurt” after receiving a guarantee that “robust audits” will be conducted to verify that labor savings are passed on to exhibitors and not used to pad profits for show managers.

Round Two resolved a jurisdictional dispute between the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Local 134 and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 2 by allowing stagehands to complete work previously reserved for electricians.


Copyright © 2012 — Sun-Times Media, LLC