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Beginning on Saturday, Sep. 18, the Carpenters union initiated picketing activities at McCormick Place facilities in an effort to organize the employees of exhibitors who are performing the assembly and dismantling of exhibits at the tradeshow venue. Prior to the recent legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly, this work was performed by union members.

“The union has made every effort to reach a reasonable compromise with state lawmakers who choose to mandate work rule changes through this legislation rather than negotiate with the trade unions whose members work and earn a living at these venues,” said Frank Libby, president of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters.

The legislation, which is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Carpenters union and the Teamsters union in federal court, permits exhibitors to use their own employees to perform the work without restriction at the expense of union members’ jobs and hours worked.

“The lawsuit and the picketing activities are the last resort the union has to represent working members and their families who depend on the tradeshow industry,” said Libby.

It is the contention of the Carpenters union that in many cases, local workers who are state residents are being supplanted by exhibitor employees who reside outside of Illinois. According to the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, at a time when the state is attempting to create jobs, union workers at McCormick Place and Navy Pier are feeling the repercussions of the overhauled work rules.

Libby anticipates the legislation will lead to unemployment and a loss of health care benefits for hundreds of union workers living in Chicago who rely on these jobs to support their families.



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