McCormick Place Reforms Become Law After Veto Overriden

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – The Illinois state legislature handily overrode Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of the sweeping reforms of McCormick Place.

The May 27 veto override makes the original reform bill law. A so-called trailer bill included some of the changes the governor had sought; however, they were primarily technical in nature and left critical changes in union work rules and overtime intact.

The trailer bill also set the ground rules for allowing employees of the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority (MPEA) to accept jobs with a private management company hired to run McCormick Place. MPEA employees would be allowed to accept a new job provided they had not been involved in the contracting of the management firm.

The long-awaited signing of the bill appeared to bear fruit quickly. The board of directors of the International Housewares Association voted the next day to begin negotiations with the MPEA on a long-term contract that would keep the International Home + Housewares Show at McCormick Place beyond 2011.

Another key Chicago trade show, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, completed its May 22-25 run and reported a 6% increase in attendance and approximately 480,000 net square feet of exhibit space. Mary Pat Heftman, NRA executive vice president of conventions, told the Chicago media that no decisions had been made to extend the show’s long run at McCormick Place. She said, however, that she remained concerned about potential future legislative attempts to alter the reforms.

Quinn had vetoed the McCormick Place bill earlier in the week. He objected to a number of provisions, in particular the appointment of James Reilly to oversee operations at the convention center. Reilly, a former COO of the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority and consultant to McCormick Place’s general service contractors, had rankled Quinn’s supporters in organized labor.

Quinn also wanted to eliminate a planned doubling of the ground transportation tax from Chicago’s airports; consolidate union jurisdictions from five to three; and bring any future retention of private management for McCormick Place in-line with city procurement regulations.

Trade Show Executive will continue to monitor the events in Chicago and Springfield and will update its website with any new developments.

Reach David Causton, general manager of McCormick Place, at (312) 791-7000 or dcauston@mpea.com; Mary Pat Heftman at (312) 853-2525 or mheftman@restaurant.org; Mia Rampersad, vice president, trade shows, International Housewares Association, at (827) 292-4200 or mrampersad@housewares.org