Breakthrough Reported in McCormick Place Labor Talks

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – A tentative agreement was reportedly reached with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters that would put the welcomed labor reforms at McCormick Place back on track. A union official told the Chicago Tribune this week that a deal had been struck. A source close to the negotiation told Trade Show Executive there would likely be an official announcement of “very good news” this week.

The reported deal with the Teamsters would cover the drayage workers who haul exhibit goods on and off the trade show floor at McCormick Place. Talks were still underway with union carpenters, who handle booth assembly work, and were described as close to a deal.

The Tribune said the Teamsters had agreed to a proposal that would reduce crew size from three workers to two, allow exhibitors to do more of their own assembly, and adjust the straight-time window.  The changes appeared to be largely in line with the original labor reforms that were instituted by the Illinois General Assembly but blocked by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman ruled in March that the assembly overstepped its bounds by mandating new rules in what was a private-party contract arrangement between the unions and the general service contractors serving McCormick Place. The National Labor Relations Board bars governments from unilaterally making changes to contracts between unions and private employers.

The decision was appealed by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA). At the same time, the MPEA and state and local politicians began discussions with the Teamsters and Carpenters to reach a voluntary agreement that would keep the reforms in place and convince trade show organizers not to move their events to other cities.

Earlier this month, some show organizers expressed frustration at the pace of the negotiations and raised the possibility of once again looking at other venues.

Reach MPEA Trustee James Reilly at (312) 791-7500 or jreilly@mpea.com