Smart Moves for Chicago and McCormick Place

OK, so this isn’t directly about digital printing. Or even printing. But it is one of my favored topics and one I usually find myself touching on as shows approach.

You may have heard that the playing field for trade shows in Chicago—home to GRAPH EXPO and the PRINT shows put on by Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC)—has shifted slightly in favor of the very companies ponying up the big bucks to display their wares in McCormick Place. A new Illinois state law gives exhibitors the right to do far more of their own booth set-up than in the past, a move that can significantly lower the costs for companies participating in a show. It won’t happen all at once, but this is good news. And coming on the heels of reductions in drayage (moving equipment in and out), it brings a smile to the show planners at all the vendors.

Predictably, the unions don’t like it because it hits directly at one of their key revenue generators—oversized work crews, overtime billings and paying people to be little more than warm bodies for substantial hourly wages. Like the people who walk around with tennis balls on a stick, rubbing invisible heel marks off the floor.

Scratch any vendor and you’ll quickly hear the war stories about skirmishes with union stewards, workers and assorted drones about getting carpet put down, banners and trusses hoisted, electrical and Internet connections made, and placing equipment where needed. Then there’s the absurd costs of what is often semi-skilled labor and the foolishness of having to wait for an electrician to plug two extension cords together and throw a switch, or a carpenter to tighten a bolt on a partition. Then there’s the endless issue of damage to machinery, either accidentally or through willful negligence. Of course, this could get worse now that the unions will be getting less out of every show. After all, who better to take out some frustration on than the equipment of some big company?

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