Union Agreement Struck Between Chicago Convention Venues, IATSE and IBEW

June 21, 2012

Chicago trade show industry stakeholders continued to move forward on making the city’s convention venues easier to use for existing and potential shows by striking an agreement between the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, which oversees McCormick Place and Navy Pier, and two unions - the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 134, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 2.

The agreement allows IATSE stagehands to complete a type of work previously completed by IBEW electricians.

 IATSE members will now be allowed to install, operate, and remove the audio/visual, sound, and lighting equipment in certain areas used for presentations and performances, and to plug in the equipment to permanent outlets or temporary electrical services provided by electricians.

This would also include lighting and sound equipment which is suspended from the ceilings of the facilities.

Electricians will continue to complete all of the work they have historically completed in Exhibit Booths and other areas not used for presentations or performances.

 "This is exactly the sort of common sense, practical labor agreement that we are seeking throughout the city," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

He added, "This agreement will create jobs and make Chicago more competitive for trade shows; it will help union employees get work and will increase the number of trade shows and conventions we attract. This is a win-win for everyone involved and I commend the unions, as well as the leadership of McCormick Place and Navy Pier, for working with me to get this done."

This current agreement was struck eight months after a lawsuit was dismissed brought by the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and the International Association of Teamsters Local 727 over work rule changes that had been enacted at McCormick and Navy Pier.

MPEA had enacted the initial labor reforms, which were subsequently challenged by the unions, when some large trade shows, including the Society of the Plastics Industry’s NPE – The International Plastics Showcase,pulled out of Chicago citing high costs.

“IBEW Local 134 is proud of this historic agreement with the MPEA and Navy Pier, Inc.,” said Terry Allen, business manager, Local 134. “ The agreement not only promotes the growth of the trade show industry resulting in an increase in working hours for our members, it also protects the historic work jurisdiction of Local 134. The parties to the agreement look forward to its positive influence on the economy in Chicago.”

Here are some of the reasons cited by MPEA officials that the new agreement is considered significant:

Helps align the facilities’ business models with other tradeshow and convention facilities

Allows show managers to use a wider group of contractors to provide services for performance and production areas

 Creates additional savings for show management

 Ends a contentious jurisdictional argument between IBEW and IATSE at Navy Pier

Allows McCormick Place to compete more aggressively for corporate and association convention business

Allows for additional bookings for shows that benefit from these changes are expected to create additional work for both unions.

“I thank Mayor Emanuel and Governor Quinn for their leadership and efforts to align labor and management to a formula that will attract more convention business to Chicago,” said Craig Carlson, business manager of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 2.

He added, “I also want to thank the IBEW and the management of McCormick Place and Navy Pier for their foresight in this collaborative initiative which will position Chicago to unprecedented success with tradeshow and corporate events.”

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