Mayor: City, union teamwork keeps McCormick Place busy

October 1, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Chicago Mayor Emanuel says the deals to keep the shows are a result of how the city, labor unions and trade show executives worked together to keep McCormick Place competitive. He says the shows will pump about $1 billion in revenue into the Chicago area over the next decade.

About a year ago McCormick Place unions dropped their lawsuit against state-imposed work rule changes. Since then, business at Chicago's convention center has boomed, according to the city.

"We all sat down, worked together," Tony Degrados, Stagehands Union, said. "It's positive."

"The more shows we can bring here, the better for the city and for all our members," Kevin McLaughlin, Carpenters Union, said.

The International Manufacturing Technology and National Restaurant shows announced they would extend their runs in Chicago through the year 2021. They credit various unions for making work rule changes that have lowered exhibitor costs.

"Continued cooperation from Chicago's labor unions have made this agreement possible and have also fueled significant growth in our use of exhibitor space," Dawn Sweeney, National Restaurant Association.

"The two combined shows themselves by extending to 2021 combined is nearly a billion dollars in economic activity over that period of time," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

The unions--renowned for being some of the most demanding in the country--say the more flexible approach is paying dividends.

"Everybody is making money. I think everybody is happier when they can do something for their children and their family," Robert Fulton, Riggers Union, said.

For the mayor, the announcement focused on a different side of his relationship with organized labor than the stormy one that was seen during the recent Chicago Teachers Union strike. He's also in continued negotiations with police and firefighters.

ABC7's Charles Thomas asked the mayor if there is any difference in his dealings with private sector unions as opposed to public employee unions.

"I think what's clear, Charles, in my view, is that when you form a partnership, everybody can be a winner," Mayor Emanuel said.

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