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McCormick Place, Chicago, IL

Union regulations have recently changed in Chicago in the McCormick Place and the Navy Pier (governed by the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority – MPEA). Hotels and the Donald E Stevens Convention Center (formerly the Rosemont CC) remain under the older, more restrictive regulations.

In the past, any use of a forklift or other equipment required that a full crew (typically of 3 men) be hired along with the equipment. Now the crew at MPEA facilities will be assigned based on the size of the job. However, since even genie lifts must be operated by a Teamster (they cannot be operated by your labor crew, as in most cities) it is not economical to use genie lifts in this city.

Booth Labor, Freight and Rigging

Another recent change combines Carpenters and Decorators into a Unified Labor Force for Display Labor. The same crew can now uncrate your exhibit, perform the installation and dismantle of exhibit & display material, install flooring, hang non-electric signs, re-crate your exhibit, and hang fabric. (This Unified Labor Force applies only to the Navy Pier and McCormick Place.)

Teamsters handle freight, except machinery. Machinists assemble and level machinery and conveyors. Riggers un-crate, un-skid, position, re-skid and clean all machinery. Exhibitors may carry in small boxes or pop-up booth properties, as long as they can be hand carried. They may also hang signs using tape or other fasteners that do not require tools or ladders and can be completed in less than ½ hours’ time. Exhibitors may skirt tables without staples, snaps or Velcro.

In Booth Work

The legislation contains an expansive definition of the type of work that Show Managers and Exhibitors may now perform within their booths. The legislation also charges the Authority with the responsibility for ensuring that the exercise of these rights by Show Managers and Exhibitors is consistent with training and safety requirements.

While this safety analysis is an ongoing component of the implementation process, the Authority is prepared to announce the following changes in the type of work that may be performed by Show Managers and Exhibitors:

The legislation defines an “exhibitor employee” as “any person who has been employed by the exhibitor as a full-time employee for a minimum of 6 months before the show’s opening date.”


Electricians assemble, install and dismantle any electrical, including wiring, hook-ups, electrical signs, sound and video equipment. Cords must be provided by the hall. Electricians must lay all cords. The labor contractor is not allowed to do anything that deals with electrical. The exhibitors can hook-up their own equipment or product. New rules allow exhibitors to plug in their own devices, as long as they are not high voltage. Plumbing is handled in-house.

Changing of Installation and Tear-out Calculations for Electrical Services and Booth-work

Utility Services

McCormick Place will no longer charge for labor for the time required to install or remove electrical services smaller than 208 Volts. For 208 Volt and larger services, McCormick Place will charge for actual labor used or a minimum of 1 hour of labor for the installation and one half hour of labor for the tear-out of the first service using the “at cost” rate.

Booth Work

McCormick Place will no longer charge for the tear-out of booth-work or meeting room work performed by McCormick Place electricians. This change specifically excludes rigging or other work which is classified as Theatrical or Stage Production Theatrical and Stage Productions For theatrical and stage productions including rigging, and general session, performance, or stage work, McCormick Place will continue to charge for tear-out labor.

Other Recent Charges

Additional money saving rules adopted by the MPEA facilities (Navy Pier & McCormick) include:


Monday through Friday, Saturday, Sunday , and Holidays – 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ST for 1st 8 Consecutive Hours and OT Only After 8 Hours OT for 1st 8 Consecutive Hours and DT Only After 8 Hours DT 10:01 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. OT DT 12:00 a.m. to 5:59 a.m.

Beginning on August 1, 2010, McCormick Place will observe and require all contractors working within McCormick Place to bill in accordance with the new overtime windows defined in the legislation. This will offer more flexibility on start times as well as a much higher likelihood of completing a larger percentage of work on straight time.

These changes apply to all work provided to exhibitors and show management by the following unions employed by McCormick Place, or any contractors working within the convention facilities at McCormick Place: Electricians, Decorators, Plumbers, Riggers, Carpenters, and Teamsters.

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