McCormick Place… it’s not a “profit center”

This week was an interesting one for trade shows based in Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center in the near future. Apparently, legislation in Illinois proposes to convert tradeshow union laborers into public employees.

They plan to WHAT?

Yes, they plan to make the show more efficient, transparent, and effective, and less expensive to boot. All by a magical transition of changing the labor pools at McCormick into government employees (presumably municipal employees of the MPEA – we’ve mentioned them here before, me thinks…).

Actually, the FIVE labor unions will become THREE, laborers willno longer be able to strike, and contracts will be negotiable on an individual show basis.

One additional mandate was stipulated in the fine print of the legislation*:

All subsequent references to “Union” labor(ers) must hereafter include quotations hitherto delineated [“Union” labor].

* -I kid, I kid. But how is it still a “union” if you a. can’t strike, b. they negotiate your contract willy nilly, and c. they outright eliminate 40% of the members groups? I think that 40% ought to figure out where their dues are going towards…

Freeman and GES, show contractors at McCormick, are none too pleased by the plan.

Show organizers gave mixed reviews:

“I don’t know much besides, ‘Yeah, we’re taking labor in house, and this would save money,’ but I don’t know that it would,” said Tom Shimala, show manager for the Radiological Society of North America Scientific Assembly & Annual Meeting (

“I don’t think we’re in the stage where we can comment on the final product, because there is no final product,” he added. “If they are trying to lower cost and improve quality for exhibitors, and, if this will do it, then I’ll back it.” – Peter Eelman, show manager for the Intl. Manufacturing Technology Show (

The quote I most relished, however was this one:

“They are concerned that we are doing this to generate revenue, for us to mark up labor and then pass that cost onto the contractor,” [the GM of McCormick Place] added. “We have been saying (that) we are not in process of making this a profit center.”

‘Cause they’re trying to LOSE money? If anyone knows what the goal is now (since it’s not profits…), please enlighten me!