by Kaylee Hultgren | April 28, 2010

Last week, the newly appointed interim board of the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, formed earlier this year to examine the trade show business in Chicago, made recommendations for reforming labor practices and lowering pricing for customers at McCormick Place. Suggestions addressed the following five areas: labor relations and exhibitor rights; in-house electrical providers and food services; debt restructuring; sales and marketing; and governance. As was originally put forward in January by the MPEA, with support from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, workers would be made public employees and would not be allowed to strike; the MPEA would be able to renegotiate show labor agreements; and the number of union bargaining units would be reduced from five to three. New recommendations made include allowing outside electrical contractors to bid on individual events; canceling current food-service contracts and preparing an RFP process for food service at a fixed fee; and redirecting any convention-related marketing funds from the city or state to the MPEA. Following a review of the MPEA's recommendations, lawmakers will send a final report to the state's general assembly.