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New Carpenters’ Pact at McCormick Place Changes Overtime Rules and Grants Pay Hike


Chicago, IL – A new collective bargaining agreement with the Chicago & Northeast Illinoiscarpenters union will reduce the amount of overtime paid during the move-out of trade shows held at McCormick Place.

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) said the two-year contract that took effect June 1 pays straight time rather than time-and-a-half for the hours between 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the break of show Monday through Friday. The deal also expands the time-and-a-half rates for Saturday from 8 hours to 12 hours, eliminating four hours of double overtime.

The pact also allows the employers to randomly drug-test employees who are members of the union.

In exchange, the Chicago & Northeast Illinois District Council of Carpenters agreed to a raise in the straight time rate paid to its members, who do a major share of the work in installing and dismantling a show. Under the two-year contract, carpenters will earn $39.77 per hour, up $2 from last year. Another $1.40 per hour will go toward benefits. In the second year, pay and benefits will rise by another $3.40, with the split between pay and benefits to be determined next year.

The MPEA estimated that union carpenters represent about 40% of the workforce on hand during a typical trade show at McCormick Place.

The ultimate goal of the new labor contracts is to keep McCormick Place, the nation’s largest exposition center, attractive to major trade shows. As many as 1,000 carpenters alone can be on the job during a single show alongside scores of other tradesmen and women. “The timing of these changes provides additional, tangible reasons to choose Chicago as it competes to fill the West Building with association and corporate business,” said MPEA Chairman Ted Tetzlaff. “Greater flexibility, lower costs and an experienced, efficient workforce help us position Chicago and McCormick Place as a global destination to do business.”

The Carpenters are the fourth major union representing McCormick Place workers to negotiate new, more flexible work rules over the past two years, following riggers, decorators and electricians. “This uniformity is a crucial aspect of the new collective bargaining agreement,” said John Patronski, who is the 2008 chairman of the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB) and executive vice president of GES. “It means exhibitors not only will reduce costs, but will be able to budget more accurately. The change to straight time at the ‘break’ of the show now aligns with all the trades.”

GES and Freeman negotiated the contract with the carpenters. The deal applies specifically to McCormick Place rather than to all facilities in the Chicago region as was the case with past contracts. “The regional bargaining process simply was not reflecting the very specialized kind of work that goes on at McCormick Place,” said Doug Van Ort, senior vice president for Freeman.

Reach John Patronski at (773) 767-2237 or; Doug Van Ort at (773) 379-5040 or; Ted Tetzlaff at (312) 567-8005 or

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