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Illinois Employment & Jobs, Illinois Politics

Does McCormick Place Agreement Mark the High-Point of the Quinn-Emanuel Chum-Fest?

(Chicago, IL) – October 21, 2011. Despite—or because of—their growing and testy rivalry, Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel today appeared together at a press conference—where they could keep an eye on each other–to announce agreements with two McCormick Place labor unions that re-patch earlier legislated labor reforms that a court had earlier overturned.

“These historic reforms will save exhibitors money by giving them the flexibility they need and help to attract even more shows to Illinois, while making sure the many hard-working men and women who support McCormick Place stay on the job,” said Quinn, whose staff had worked with Emanuel aides to harness an agreement.

The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and Teamsters Local 727 agreed to allow show managers and exhibitors to perform their own work in any size booth, using their own ladders, hand tools, cordless tools and power tools. Exhibitors will also be allowed to load and unload their own vehicles. Additionally, two-person work crews will replace the three-person crews required before the reforms.

The unions essentially agreed to the terms that they had previously sued to overturn.

“This agreement will help our members stay on the job and keep Chicago’s trade show industry healthy for years to come,” said Frank Libby, the carpenters’ president.

Emanuel, who was tilted against organized labor and who was eager to restore the earlier reforms, said, “These historic reforms will save exhibitors money by giving them the flexibility they need and help to attract even more shows to Illinois…”

Illinois’ convention and tourism industry supports 66,000 jobs and generates $8 billion in spending each year of which McCormick Place convention business is a big driver.

A local lawmaker, State Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island), also praised the outcome of Quinn and Emanuel’s cooperation on the issue.

“The Chicago convention tourism industry and all the thousands of workers its employs are the most important winners in the McCormick Place agreement that Governor Quinn and Mayor Emanuel brokered with organized labor,” said Rita. “This deal means jobs for the Chicago metropolitan region.”

The joint announcement may, however, mark the outer limits of today’s Quinn-Emanuel Chum-Fest.

Rita and other legislators return to Springfield next week to address a raft of Quinn vetoes and a threatened veto of gaming expansion legislation which promises a casino for Chicago–a cherished Emanuel objective.

Quinn’s conditions for a gaming bill that he will sign contain a poison pill among lawmakers—no slot machines at horse race tracks—effectively kill any gaming expansion.

“Quinn has been flailing around to prove his relevance and re-assert his authority, and he torpedoed the gaming bill in large part for that purpose,” said a long-time Democratic lobbyist. “Boy, what a doozy.”

Today’s McCormick Place victory lap may be the last of its ilk for Quinn and Emanuel for a while.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and Huffington Post blogger, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.


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David Ormsby, Editor

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