Chicago's Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which runs McCormick Place, signed a five-year contract with the Riggers Union Local 136 and trade show contractors G.E.S. and Freeman Cos. It is designed to reduce labor costs and provide greater flexibility for exhibitors.

The contract allows multiple start times for crews, which could result in reduced overtime charges. As of June 1, there will be three start times for crews Monday through Friday, with the first eight hours at straight time. The new weekday start times are 8 a.m., 10 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. This allows exhibitors much more flexibility in setting up or tearing down their booths without incurring overtime charges. Time worked on Saturday will be at time-and-a-half rather than double time.

Also, the contract establishes two-person crews (instead of three-person crews) as the standard for most of the loading/unloading and booth setup/dismantling work. The deal allows show contractors or exhibitors to request specific workers (journeymen and foremen) by name for the majority of crew members they need. In the past, contractors were required to employ whomever the union sent over.

Riggers Union Local 136, with more than 300 members, transports equipment and displays from loading docks to the McCormick Place floor and helps exhibitors set up and dismantle larger displays. “The Riggers negotiated this agreement because we think it's in the best interest of our members and Chicago's convention industry,” said Eric Dean, administrator of Riggers Local 136, in a news release. “It's important for our union to have a viable convention and trade show industry in Chicago, and this five-year agreement has the appropriate changes to help that happen along with increased wages and benefits for our members.”