Chicago Riggers Agree on New Contract with Work Rule Reforms

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – The Riggers union at Chicago’s McCormick Place reached agreement on a new contract with Freeman and Global Experience Specialists (GES) that includes the reforms to work rules that are being contested in court by two other unions.

The announcement from the Machinery Movers, Riggers & Machinery Erectors Local 136 on July 12 represented a potential turning point in the legal and political battle over the reforms that were instituted through state legislation and are being so-far successfully contested by the Teamsters and Carpenters unions.

The unions have said in the past they were willing to negotiate changes to the work rules with the contractors, but objected having changes thrust upon them by the legislature. Their stance has been upheld in federal court by a judge who agreed the arbitrary changes to the rules violated provisions of the National Labor Relations Act that protect contracts between unions and private-sector employers.

There was no immediate confirmation of the Riggers deal from the contractors or the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA). A union official told the Chicago Tribune the three-year pact includes annual raises and is retroactive to July 1. The union agreed to give up five holidays for which they had been paid double time.

No other details were immediately available, but the official indicated the contract would be favorable to trade show organizers. “I said to the men and women in the union hall, the goal is to fix the pensions, keep our health care, and keep the trade shows that are here happy and to entice new ones to come to Chicago,” said Rob Fulton, the union business manager.

The Tribune also said the Decorators union was in talks on a new contract as well, but the union declined comment. The Carpenters and Teamsters had no immediate comment on the new contract and it was not known if they, too, were working on a new deal.

Reach Rob Fulton at (708) 615-9300 or fulton136@sbcglobal.net; David Causton, general manager of McCormick Place, at (312) 791-7000 or dcauston@mpea.com