Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chicago Convention Biz Being Trashed By Local 12 VTSU (Villians, Thieves and Scoundrels Union)

I once booked a recent Soviet emigre on the Larry King Show and when a caller blurted out, "Larry, you're an idiot." The ex-Soviet subject was astonished. With a sense of wonderment, he later said to me, "You can say anything in this country!"

Years of socialist totalitarian oppression had deadened him to the concept that freedom of speech could actually exist.

So it is with Chicagoans who after lifelong tolerance of corruption, high taxation and civic heavy-handedness have forgotten that not everyone will put up with this.

That is probably why the Chicago news media was so surprised when over the past two weeks, two major national trade associations announced that they were no longer going to hold their conventions at Chicago's McCormick Place. And the enormous National Restaurant Association announced that it too was thinking of pulling out of Chicago.

The Plastics Industry Trade Show, after 40 years of exhibiting in Chicago announced that it would be moving its conclave to the convention center in Orlando, Florida. And the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society announced that it was moving to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

They cited the outrageous charges that they had incurred due to the absurd labor rules which apply at the venue.

At McCormick Place, which is run by the clout heavy McPier Authority, exhibitors have to employ union personnel for just about everything.

The owner of the Jimmy John's fast food chain said that he was not allowed to carry his own tomatoes into the exhibit but rather was forced to hire a union lout for the task. (What Union was this? The International Brotherhood of Tomato Toters?)

And one of the Plastics exhibiters said that he was forced to pay electrical workers union idlers to plug in the cord of his PC and to screw in a lightbulb. At union scale of upwards of $40 an hour this can add up.

The Healthcare Info group decided to pull out after their Electrician's Union tab rose from $40k to $240k. That's an awful lot of dough for lightbulb screwing and PC plugging. And they estimate that the Chicago Union tyrrany is costing them up to 10 times the cost of the same work as in the Las Vegas venue. Nevada is a right to work state -- i.e. no union dominance.

And then there is the case of the $100 cases of Pepsi. That is what the McPier contractors are charging exhibitors -- $100 for 24 cans of Pepsi at McCormick Place for a product that is $7.14 at Jewel.

But the fleeing trade associations also cite "other factors" for their decisions to stop doing business in Chicago.

I think I know what they are.

They relate to the generally oppressive high taxes and inane regulations of personal behavior that the Chicago sheep have come to accept. But real Americans elsewhere won't put up with such nonsense.

First there is Chicago's onerous prohibition of tobacco use -- Chicago's all-consuming smoking ban.

A quarter of all adults use this legal product and, face it, conventioneers come to relax and play. They come to do business, yes, but also to get away from it all, which often means getting drunk and making complete asses of themselves.

In Orlando and Las Vegas, they can go into a bar and light up a smoke. In Chicago, they have to put on their overcoats and shiver in the street outside the bar to have a smoke.

In Orlando and Las Vegas they can casually light up a cigarette at their exhibition booths (hospitality workplaces are exempted from their smoking regulations) but not so in Daley's smoke-free utopia.

And the steady drip, drip of Chicago's ever-increasing tax rates are surely weighing on the minds of the convention planners.

If the conventioneer wants to buy a trinket to take home, the sales tax on it is 10.25% on Chicago -- 6.5% in Orlando -- 8% in Vegas.

Hotel taxes are 16.5% in Chicago -- 10% in Orlando --12% in Vegas.

Buy a convention dinner in Chicago and the tax is 10.5% -- 6.5% in Orlando -- 7.25 in Vegas.

And a conventioneer who rents a car in Chicago will have to invest a fair portion of their monthly salary if they go to park it on a street in the Loop -- and that's certainly not the case in spacious Orlando and Las Vegas.

The Teamsters and the Union electricians and the International Brotherhood of Tomato Toters may be significantly to blame for the costly convention exodus (the Plastics, Healthcare Info and Restaurant conventioneers alone pump $236 million into the Chicago economy.)

And Chicago's filthy weather can't ever compete with sunny Orlando and Las Vegas.

But no small part of the blame rests with the big taxers and clean-air pecksniffs of Chicago's most dangerous union.

Local 12, VTSU (Villians, Thieves and Scoundrel's Union,) Richard M. Daley President, Todd Stroger, Shop Steward.

1 comment:

Comments invited, however anonymous commentors had better deal directly with the issues raised and avoid ad hominem drivel. As for Teachers' Union seminar writers -- forget about it.