Emanuel: Labor agreement could bring more conventions to Chicago

June 19, 2012

Quinn Ford and the Associated Press

Two competing unions have agreed on what tasks they'll do at McCormick Place and Navy Pier, and city leaders predict that will bring more trade shows and conventions to Chicago.

The International Alliance of Theatricial Stage Employees Local 2 and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134 have agreed to work rules that will see electricians turn over some duties to stagehands. Officials announced the deal between the unions Tuesday.

Stagehands are now allowed to do work that previously only electricians could do, including installing and operating the audio and lighting equipment in areas used for presentations and performances. Stagehands can also now plug in equipment to permanent outlets or temporary outlets provided by electricians. Electricians can continue the work they've done in exhibit booths and other areas.

Craig Carlson, the business manager of the International Alliance of Theatricial Stage Employees Local 2, said union officials began negotiating the pact after seeing more conventions and trade shows come to the city following labor changes at McCormick place last year.

"It's a growing pie, and that's happened since the initial changes," Carlson said. "And I think that that's what the reward is and the win for labor--that the pie continues to grow and the membership of both parties are benefitting."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the pact should reduce costs, create jobs and give the city a leg up on its competitors.

"As I said before, it is a very bad day for Orlando and Vegas that compete against us, and it shows that when we all work together, we can come out a winner," he said.