Reform at McCormick Place is now mandated by law. Yesterday, Illinois legislators overrode an amendatory veto by Governor Pat Quinn to pass a bill that will bring major changes to the management of the exposition center—changes that the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) and other trade show producers had demanded in return for keeping their events in Chicago.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the Senate and the General Assembly easily blocked the governor’s attempt to modify the bill, passed by both houses earlier this month. Quinn had wanted changes that would have benefited the Teamsters and the carpenters’ unions at McCormick Place, and he also objected to an increase in a bus and taxi surcharge that is part of the bill.
In another apparent setback for the governor, the override confirms the appointment of Jim Reilly as interim trustee of McCormick Place. His role will be to transition the publicly owned facility to private management over an 18-month period.
By permitting exhibitors to do much of the set-up work on their own booths, the bill reduces their dependence on unionized labor at McCormick Place—a bone of contention for many years. Other provisions limit what they will have to pay for union overtime, and reductions in the cost of electrical contracting and food and beverage services are provided as well.
The changes and their implications for exhibitors are outlined in this announcement from the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.