The Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) joined four other trade show organizers in blasting labor costs and union work rules at Chicago’s McCormick Place exhibition center, according to a story in today’s Chicago Sun-Times.

"We've gone from complaints about labor costs to anger and demand for change," Chris Price, vice president of GASC, is quoted as saying. He testified yesterday before a state legislative committee examining the agency that runs McCormick Place as well as Chicago’s famed Navy Pier.

Others spoke of steep cost markups by McCormick Place drayage companies and even of intimidation against exhibitors by union members. An official of an exhibitors’ group is quoted as saying that his members fear damage to their property if they protest against union practices. Others warned that shows would continue to relocate to lower-cost locations such as Orlando and Las Vegas if changes are not made.

GASC produces the Graph Expo and Print shows at McCormick Place, which has been criticized by many exhibitors as too expensive a venue. In response, GASC offered a “stimulus package” of cost-reducing incentives to exhibitors at Print last year.

GASC’s next event at McCormick Place is Graph Expo 2010 (October 3-6).