McPier acts to preserve McCormick Place overhaul

By Kathy Bergen
Posted April 4 at 5:15 p.m.

McCormick Place officials Monday asked a federal judge to suspend an injunction that invalidates state-imposed labor-rule changes at the convention center, pending appeal.

“Even a temporary reversal of the reforms … would result in a customer relations nightmare of epic proportions that Chicago’s competitors for trade show dollars, such as Orlando and Las Vegas, will be sure to exploit,” the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the state-city agency that owns and operates the convention center, said in its request to U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Guzman.

The authority, known as McPier, announced plans to appeal immediately after Guzman’s ruling on March 31. Its  request for suspension of his order, pending appeal, had been expected. McPier attorneys are expected to present arguments for the delay  Thursday.

Guzman has ruled that the state overstepped its bounds by revising work rules for unionized tradespeople on the show floor.

The ruling threw out passages of the law enacted last year that allow exhibitors to do more booth setup and limit labor overtime and crew sizes.

The decision is a setback for efforts by Chicago and the state to remake the image of the convention center as a less expensive and more accommodating facility for trade shows and conventions.

Guzman ruled that the National Labor Relations Act pre-empts states from enacting legislation that would interfere with the ability of private-sector employees to negotiate the terms of their employment.

Most of the trade-union employees that set up and tear down the shows work for private contractors.

The ruling came in parallel cases brought by Teamsters Local 727 and the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters. The carpenters’ council will request time to respond to the authority’s petition for a delay in executing the order, said Terrance McGann, an attorney representing the group.

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  1. RAK April 5 at 8:20 a.m.

    Let Rahm in on the negotiations with the McPier unions. They won’t get out alive.

  2. I Heart Stupid April 5 at 8:44 a.m.

    Let me get this straight. The unions got an injunction on a law that prevents the unions from raping exhibitors. Trade show operators are basically lap dogs for their exhibitors. Conventions run by non-profits are, at the very least, strongly influenced by exhibitors. In essence, exhibitors pay for trade shows/conventions. The end game will be no viable business for McPier. Are the rank-and-file union hacks ever going to wake up and realize their “leadership” does not care about anything other than their own personal power and finances? They are willing to put their own dues-paying members on the unemployment rolls just to flex their muscle. No worries, though. The union “leadership” will advise their members how to work the unemployment line so their members won’t have to wait as long to collect their checks. You can’t forget to stay current on your dues! If you fall behind, you won’t get that great advice from your “leadership.”

  3. Union Carpenter April 5 at 4:16 pm

    It always amazes me how those who have no clue how things work at McCormick place have all the answers. Why are these articles always slanted towards management. As has been stated constantly in the comments after these articles the problem is not with labor and it can be proved with simple logic. Union labor has been making concessions for years but the savings has never once trickled down to the exhibitors.

    “Even a temporary reversal of the reforms … would result in a customer relations nightmare of epic proportions that Chicago’s competitors for trade show dollars, such as Orlando and Las Vegas, will be sure to exploit,”

    Nice, an opinion from McPier management for the body of your article. The same management who soaked up all the extra profit from this and previous concessions without passing one cent along to exhibitors. Why don’t you talk to the labor reps. They can back thier arguments up with facts. How about an objective article for a change Ms. Bergen?

  4. another union carpenter April 5 at 6:56 pm

    O.K., I know how things work at McCormick Place, and there are alot of problems with the so called union carpenters there, such as your breaks every 2hrs., a 45 minute lunch, and you’re only docked for 30 minutes, not carrying tools, unskilled labor who bought their union cards, taking 15 minutes to walk to the tool truck, and taking another 15 minutes to return the tool. Does it seem like I know what I’m talking about? Stop pretending that the carpenters at McCormick Place are skilled journeymen, because they are not, and you’re probably not either.

  5. Union Carpenter April 5 at 8:56 pm

    I rest my case. No a.u.c. you’re as clueless as the rest. I’ve set up shows in just about every city in the country and I can’t remember once when the set-up crew didn’t take breaks every 2 hours whether they were carpenters, teamsters, stage hands, decorators, riggers, etc. I and everyone I work with bring a tool box with several hundred dollars worth of our own tools to the job every day. Walk to the “tool truck”? What are you talking about?

    But that’s not the point anyway. I don’t care if people hate me. The world’s full of haters. I won’t change thier mind no matter how good of a case I make. I’m just asking for a little responsible journalism. There’s two sides to every story, right? But not only does Ms. Bergen not offer a view from the other side, she can’t even be bothered to offer facts from the side she’s slanted towards. Instead she offers self-serving opinions.

    The Tribune makes Fox News seem objective.