Upheaval Continues in Chicago Trade Show World

Last week, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation to replace the 13-member board of the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition, which oversees McCormick Place, with an interim board of seven members, to be appointed by the governor within 30 days. The new board is charged with reforming the business of trade shows and conventions in the city. Additionally, a confidential labor analysis report put together by Freeman and GES, two major contractors at McCormick Place, at the request of the MPEA and Mayor Richard Daley's office, detailed Chicago's labor expenses in comparison with other major trade-show destinations. An industry source confirmed the following information about the report: The average straight-time fixed-rate labor costs to hold a trade show in Chicago, including taxes and worker wages and compensation, is $66.30 an hour, whereas in Las Vegas it is $42.62 and in Orlando it is $26.83. In addition, a show in Chicago requires a minimum crew of three Teamsters, whereas Las Vegas and Orlando require one Teamster; the size of crew teams can be modified in Orlando and Las Vegas, but not Chicago; and both Orlando and Las Vegas require one nonworking labor employee after the first 100 employees, compared with Chicago's requirement of up to 10 nonworking employees. Both Freeman and GES acknowledged the existence of the report but would not confirm its contents.