McCormick Place Convention Reform Law Passed
CHICAGO—The Illinois General Assembly overrode Gov. Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto and pushed into law a reform package for McCormick Place that will make the venerable home of Graph Expo and PRINT more competitive with convention centers across the country and more viable to the businesses that exhibit there. The measure reforms labor rules, establishes exhibitor rights and realigns McCormick Place operations with its major competitors in the convention and trade show circuit.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters filed suit Wednesday to halt implementation of the law, which it claims violates its members’ federally protected rights to collective bargaining.
The new law establishes an 18-month period to develop and implement significant reforms that will result in lower costs for exhibitors. Tim Roby, Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB) president and CEO, believes this legislation will renew Chicago’s status as a premier convention and trade show destination, while helping to drive business to hotels, restaurants, retail and more.
The new law calls for, among other things:
• New labor work rules that reduce crew sizes, require less overtime pay and eliminate hassles for customers.
• Expanding exhibitor rights, allowing customers to do their own work regardless of booth size.
• The appointment of a Trustee, former Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) CEO Jim Reilly, to oversee operations during an 18 month transition period and select a private manager for McCormick Place.
• Restructuring capital debt to allow the MPEA to further lower costs to customers and put the MPEA on sound financial footing.
• Allowing shows to select outside electrical and food service contractors.
• Auditing contracts to ensure savings are passed on to customers.
• Make recommendations as to whether Navy Pier should remain in the control of the MPEA or become an independent entity.
The new law also provides additional public funding to assist the CCTB in marketing Chicago as a convention destination. The CCTB has served as the sales and marketing arm for the city for more than 30 years.