Leaders blast judge's decision to block McCormick Place labor rules

June 22, 2011

Illinois leaders blasted a judge’s decision to block new labor rules for McCormick Place on Wednesday.

In a joint statement, Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton sought to reassure businesses that the state was committed to reducing the costs of exhibiting at the beleaguered convention center.

The leaders said that Illinois and Chicago “are absolutely committed to maintaining the McCormick Place reforms enacted in May of 2010, whatever it may take.”

Judge Ronald Guzman issued an injunction that prevents rules that were passed by the Illinois state legislature last year from going into effect.  The bill made it easier for businesses to set up their own exhibit booths and limit the size of work crews and their overtime. It also allowed exhibitors to bring in outside electricians and food, in an attempt to bypass the convention center’s unions.

Gov. Quinn, who was among those who had signed the joint statement, had vetoed provisions of the bill in May of last year, which was quickly overridden by the legislature.

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the governing body that manages McCormick Place, vowed to fight the court action in a statement issued late Wednesday afternoon.

“With today's ruling on denying the motion, we are compelled to take the next step. We will be asking the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay while we present our case as to why Judge Guzman's ruling should be overturned,”  said MPEA trustee Jim Reilly.

“The importance of the city's convention industry as an economic engine can't be overstated,” he said in the statement.