Mayor Daley tried Friday to answer the $18 million question posed by his inspector general: why City Hall tolerates having 200 motor truck drivers “paid to do nothing” but drive crews to their work sites and wait in the vehicle until they finish.That rule has been in place for 22 years of the Daley administration in Chicago, and apparently trying to end it was not worth the trouble.
And in other union news, the changes to the rules that were supposed to make conventions more affordable in Chicago got tossed out by a judge.
Here is a taste of what conventions faced if they wanted to locate at Chicago's McCormick Place convention center.
Remember the Pepsi?In addition to the costs involved, the rules meant that companies could do very little to set up there own space. Everything had to be done by union members. At very high rates. (Whether the workers saw that money or not, I can't say. I do know the bills were high.)
Chicago spent decades honing a reputation as a rigid and overpriced place to hold trade shows. Eventually, though, trade show organizers tired of Chicago's unofficial motto: "We stick it to you because we can. You got a problem with that?"
The issue came to a head in 2009 when Tim Hanrahan, CEO of a Massachusetts company that makes recycling machinery, recounted his McCormick Place horror story in a trade publication, Plastics News:The total charge for four cases of Pepsi, delivered to our booth, was $345.39. The invoice breaks down to $254 for the four cases of Pepsi, a 21 percent service charge, and a 10.25 percent Illinois state sales tax, a 3 percent Chicago soft drink tax, a tax on the service charge, and a food and beverage tax. Government taxes totaled $38.06, which is more than the legitimate retail price of the soft drinks.McCormick Place reacted clumsily, issuing a chart suggesting that soda prices are exorbitant for conventioneers in other cities too. As if to suggest trade shows should stay in Chicago because the extortion here is no worse than the extortion elsewhere.
"Now, a nice man in a tuxedo delivered the Pepsi, along with a couple of buckets of ice and a few cups. Good service? Sure, but not worth $345.39."
So I hope the rules stay just where they are. And I hope Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and St. Louis pick up the regional conventions and that the national conventions just stay away. (McCormick Place is HUGE, if you've never been there, but it really isn't the only choice. Most conventions don't fill half of it anyway.)
There is little chance that the unions involved will voluntarily change the rules, even if it means they watch their jobs disappear.