Legislation overhauling the management, work rules, and cost structures at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center promises a new deal for Graph Expo 2010 and other trade shows whose owners lobbied for changes there.
The Chicago news media reported the passage of the legislation in the Illinois House and Senate last week. The measure has been sent to Governor Pat Quinn, who is expected to sign it.
The changes should be in place when Graph Expo opens on October 3, said Ralph Nappi, president of the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC), the producer of the Graph Expo and Print shows. He said that for exhibitors, the difference will be “like night and day” in terms of what they now will be able to do to control the costs of booth setup and material handling.
Included in the legislation is a “bill of rights” for exhibitors that lets them set up their own booths and reduces their dependence on unionized labor at McCormick Place. It also permits them choose their own electrical contractors and limit the size of the crews they do hire. (A summary of provisions favoring exhibitors is reported here.)
The legislation further places the public agency that runs McCormick Place under the supervision of a trustee charged with recommending ways to privatize its management. The chief executive of that agency resigned last week.
Nappi said that GASC was at “ground zero” of the effort to bring about changes at McCormick Place, long derided by exhibitors as a haven for overcharging and abusive labor practices. GASC was one of a number of trade show-producing organizations that testified last month before an Illinois legislative committee looking into the complaints. The associations said that they would look for other host cities if changes were not made.