Carpenters’ Union Goes on Strike Mid-show at the Pennsylvania CC
For the second time in a year and right in the middle of the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting, being held April 25-May 3 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, the Carpenters’ union that works at the facility went on strike.
Talks had been ongoing between the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority and Local 8 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, but ultimately broke down today.
“Over the course of months of discussions, the center and our management team at SMG have provided ample evidence to union leadership that work rule changes in Chicago and other venues have benefitted unions by attracting more business and customers, resulting in more work hours for union members,” said Gregory J. Fox, chairman of the Board of Directors of PCCA.
He added, “It is important for everyone to look to the future and move past the current policies that have hindered the Center’s growth and success. I am concerned that the Carpenters are hurting their own membership and tens of thousands of hospitality jobs in the region that rely on the major shows and events hosted by the Center.”
According to PCCA officials, the Carpenters “are unwilling to agree to work rule changes that would provide exhibitors with greater flexibility to build their booths and displays as they can in comparable, peer facilities in other cities.”
Representatives from Local 8 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America have not commented as of this time.
The PCC currently is hosting the American Academy of Neurology, which has 13,000 attendees, and is expected to generate a $35 million economic impact for the region. Center officials have met with AAN officials on a daily basis to keep them informed on the status of labor discussions and potential impacts on their event.
Other events that could be impacted during the next week include the Broad Street Run, Konami, the American Cancer Society and Commonwealth Connections.
SMG, which took over management of the center Dec. 1, along with PCCA officials, have been in talks with all six unions operating in the center to come up with new work rules that are better for customers.
Trade unions operating at the Convention Center include the Carpenters Local 8; Laborers’ International Local 332; Stagehands Local 8; IBEW Local 98; Teamsters Local 107; and Iron Workers Local 405.
The Carpenters have been operating under a collective bargaining agreement with the center’s former manager of labor services, Elliott Lewis Convention Services, LLC. An extension of that agreement expired April 30. In addition to new collective bargaining agreements, the PCCA is seeking a new Customer Service Agreement with all six unions.
“Last year, the center hosted shows and events that generated a $729 million economic impact for the region and helped to support 90,000 jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry,” said Lorenz Hassenstein, general manager of the Center for SMG.
He added, “These work rule changes are imperative for the long-term success of the Center, one of the region and state’s leading economic generators. They will benefit the entire region, just as they will benefit members of the Carpenters union.”
Chicago went through similar issues a few years ago in which some shows left and others threatened to, citing high labor costs, until the issues were resolved and business has returned.