Labor Reforms at McCormick Place Will Stay in Effect, at Least Temporarily

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – The labor reforms at McCormick Place remain in effect for now, despite a court ruling that overturned new work rules allowing exhibitors to do more of their own set-up work.

Lawyers for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) asked a Federal judge on April 4 to hold off on the execution of his March 31 ruling. U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman   ruled Thursday that the reform legislation passed last May by the Illinois General Assembly was trumped by the Federal National Labor Relations Act.

While awaiting further proceedings on the request, the new rules remained in effect on the show floor, according to MPEA officials and the show manager of an exhibition that was moving into McCormick Place this week.

“We were halfway through our set-up when this happened,” Lisa Yonkers, senior director of meetings for the American Academy of Audiology, told Trade Show Executive, “As far as I know, we are working under the new and improved version of the rules.”

Yonkers’ show, Audiology Now 2011, runs April 6-9 and began moving into McCormick Place April 2, two days after the “new and improved” work rules were derailed by a Chicago federal judge.

Judge Guzman ruled in a lawsuit filed by two McCormick Place unions — the Teamsters and Carpenters — that the state legislature had overstepped its authority in passing the rule changes. The unions argued that the National Labor Relations Act prohibited state legislatures from enacting changes to collective bargaining agreements between unions and private companies, in this case the general services contractors.

The MPEA vowed to appeal the ruling to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and asked Guzman to hold off on putting his ruling into effect. MPEA Trustee Jim Reilly said, “We are confident that we have ample grounds to support this request (for a stay) and are hopeful that the ruling will be overturned on appeal.”

David Causton, general manager of McCormick Place, told TSE it was not known when Guzman would make a decision on the MPEA request and that the reforms would remain in effect until that time.

Reilly added that other McCormick Place reforms, particularly allowing outside firms to bid for electrical services, were not affected by last week’s ruling.

An attorney for the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters told the Chicago Tribune they were formulating a response to the MPEA’s request for a delay executing Guzman’s ruling.

Reach Jim Reilly at (312) 791-7500 or jreilly@mpea.com; David Causton at (312) 791-7000 or dcauston@mpea.com; Lisa Yonkers at 703-408-2899 or lyonkers@audiology.org