Thursday, April 22, 2010

McCormick Place Excessive Union Costs

The JS reported this week that the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority has approved proposed changes to reduce labor costs. The board voted 5-2 to make all trade show laborers public employees, eliminating their ability to strike.

Under the proposed changes, convention exhibitors would be allowed to hire outside contractors, thus eliminating the convention center's in-house electrical service, a source of customer anger. The Authority also calls for a reduction of the bargaining units from 5 to 3 to address exhibitors concerns of HIGH COSTS AND CONFUSING WORK RULES.

The board will forward its recommendations to an Illinois General Assembly panel studying how to make Chicago more competitive with rivals.

This is my second post on this subject. The unions have had a "honeypot" in almost absolute control of what came, was set up and moved out at McCormick Place for decades. The old joke question of how many union members to change a bulb or plug in a machine? The answer: a crew for a minimum of 4 hours even though it took only one minute to plug in an electrical cord or change a light bulb.

We have many of the same problems throughout Illinois. I recall here in Peoria, my off and on watching a union person in action for a full day. At the close of business, I approached him and asked him what he did all day? At first he was belligerent and told me he couldn't talk to me but to call his business agent. Finally, he admitted he did nothing all day and was going to ask to be transferred from that job as it was too boring.



Time for a change to keep the big Convention business in Illinois rather than Nevada and Florida. Also, some changes would probably keep more business in Peoria and the State of Illinois.

Which begs the question. After the unions pledged over $400,000 to the PRM, the cost of the building increased by approximately 15%. It couldn't have been material costs because the JS reported that some recent construction jobs, like the local libraries, have been coming in lower than estimates.

4 comments:

Vonster said...

I'm afraid excessive and union go hand in hand.

dd said...

Merle, I think you are being slightly unfair to the union postion on the McPier issue. There is stong evidence that the exclusive contractors are padding the bill. Allow me to provide a quote from the Sun Times article:

"Union leaders also said McPier isn’t doing enough to prevent the major companies that run conventions, Freeman Co. and Global Experience Specialists Inc., from padding charges for labor and other services.

“We’re willing to open up our collective bargaining agreement for the third time,” said Robert Fulton, business manager of Riggers Local 136, one of the convention hall’s unions. “But we have to ensure that the savings are passed on to the exhibitor.”

Dennis Gannon, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said McPier is neglecting non-union cost sources. “The entire business model needs reform and that includes all parties, not just the workers,” Gannon said.


My problem with your perspective, with all due respect to you, is that the problem is much more complex than you make it out to be. While I'm sure you can't believe that this is not all the fault of the unions, I hope you can appreciate my cynical belief that the greedy unscruplous contractors are padding the bill. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between our two extreme positions. Thanks for the opportunity to dialoge.

dd said...

Hey Merle, if you print my comment, how about letting me do a spell check. Thanks. Dave.

Merle, I think you are being slightly unfair to the union position on the McPier issue. The is strong evidence that the exclusive contractors are padding the bill. Allow me to provide a quote from the Sun Times article:

"Union leaders also said McPier isn’t doing enough to prevent the major companies that run conventions, Freeman Co. and Global Experience Specialists Inc., from padding charges for labor and other services.

“We’re willing to open up our collective bargaining agreement for the third time,” said Robert Fulton, business manager of Riggers Local 136, one of the convention hall’s unions. “But we have to ensure that the savings are passed on to the exhibitor.”

Dennis Gannon, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said McPier is neglecting non-union cost sources. “The entire business model needs reform and that includes all parties, not just the workers,” Gannon said.


My problem with your perspective, with all due respect to you, is that the problem is much more complex than you make it out to be. While I'm sure you can't believe that this is not all the fault of the unions, I hope you can appreciate my cynical belief that the greedy unscruplous contractors are padding the bill. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between our two extreme positions. Thanks for the opportunity to dialogue.

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