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Latest McCormick labor deal lands new shows

From an article in Crain’s: The new[est] labor deal at McCormick Place between two unions that represent electrical workers seems to be paying immediate dividends. In announcing the pact, Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said two new trade shows are coming here and another show is extending its tenure.

McCormick Place


The biggest of them is the BookExpo America show, which will come to Chicago in 2016 with 30,000 to 40,000 attendees. The event has not been here since 2004, and will bring $45.6 million in spending to the local economy, officials said. Reed Exhibitions, sponsor of the book show, said it is also bringing its American Incentive & Business Travel Market Show here every other year starting in June 2013, alternating with Orlando, Fla. That event will bring an estimated 1,500 people to town and have estimated direct expenditures of $10 million.

Finally, Reed also says its popular and fast-growing Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo will be here every year through at least 2014, with an economic impact of $37 million a year. Reed Executive Vice President Nancy Walsh said the deal between the electrical workers, and as well previous labor reforms announced last year for McCormick Place, were “a tremendous enhancement” to Chicago’s desirability.

Mayor Emanuel repeatedly emphasized that the jurisdictional pact between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees was “voluntary,” and not to some degree forced on the unions like last year’s Springfield deal. Since that deal was struck, he said, Chicago has booked $3 billion in new convention business, with hotel occupancy rates climbing and 1,400 rooms under construction.

But IBEW also got something else out of the deal — and not just the promise of additional work as more shows come to town.

During questioning at the press conference, it became clear that a four-way deal has been signed involving the two unions and the agencies that run McCormick Place and Navy Pier to “guarantee” IBEW’s remaining jurisdiction — for the entire next decade. McCormick Place chief Jim Reilly said the deal means little in reality because no one was going after IBEW’s work. But some legislators did quite recently, and might be tempted to do so again if the latest two rounds of work don’t pan out.

But now there’s a contract that would appear to block that. So IBEW Local 134 Business Manager Terry Allen, who represents McCormick Place workers, should have boosted his job security, too. Asked if the new “guarantee” will help fight off bad things in Springfield, Mr. Allen just shrugged.

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What do you think? Is Chicago just up to its old tricks? Is the trade show industry truly looking up and, if so, does it mirror the economy as a whole? Tell Tradeshows And Displays Inc. what you think.




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