U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Guzman issued a permanent injunction on June 22, prohibiting McCormick Place officials from operating under new labor reforms designed to make the convention center more user-friendly. Convention center leaders are appealing the ruling.
“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,” stated McCormick Place officials. “Chicago’s convention industry is an extremely important economic engine. Much positive development has occurred since the reforms were put in place, and with so much to gain and so much more to lose, we are confident that we will be able to achieve a long-term solution that will ensure the vitality of Chicago’s visitor industry.”
The new labor rules, passed last year, were designed to reduce crew sizes, overtime pay, and customer hassles. However, Teamsters Local 727 and the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters filed a lawsuit saying the reforms interfered with the National Labor Relations Act and were unconstitutional. In April 2011, Judge Guzman ruled in favor of the union. Convention center leaders asked the judge for a stay until they had a chance to appeal, but Guzman issued a permanent injunction. Until the appeals court grants a stay, the center can’t operate under the labor reforms.
Several shows committed to Chicago on the basis of the new labor rules, but the new uncertainty has caused at least one association to rethink its plans to book Chicago. After the reforms, the International Carwash Association was considering Chicago for its 2013 meeting, but now the group is planning to bring the 6,000-attendee event to Las Vegas, according to The Chicago Tribune.
City leaders have vowed to fight for the labor reforms. In a letter sent out last week to Reuters article.organizers, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and others promised that "one way or another, you have our word that McCormick Place, Chicago, and Illinois will not back down from the changes in practices at the Center which you asked for and which we delivered," according to a