Detroit's Cobo Center and Unions Form New Streamlined, Cost-efficient Labor Agreement

June 22, 2013

After two years of negotiations, Detroit’s Cobo Center and five unions working in the building have formed a new labor agreement that streamlines services and makes costs more predictable, according to venue officials.

“This agreement makes Cobo’s costs more competitive with standards for the exposition and meeting industry,” said Thom Connors, general manager of Cobo Center for SMG, the venue’s management company.

He added, “This is a significant step forward to clarify and maintain exhibitor rights and make our operations more efficient and competitive.”

The ultimate goal was to improve the customer experience by transforming the relationships between facility and show management, exhibitors and local labor, according to venue officials

“We have seen the positive changes that the convention facility authority and SMG have made to the work environment and the facility, and we are proud to be a part of the effort to bring trade shows and convention visitors to Detroit,” said Dick Reynolds, executive director of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, one of the five unions supplying services to exhibitors who are parties to the agreement.

Here are a few highlights of the new agreement:

Exhibitors could save up to 33 percent on material handling labor

Overtime adjustment: new rules extend first eight hours straight time from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; previously overtime began after 3 p.m.

Exhibitors may carry exhibit materials into and out of exhibit halls if motorized equipment is not needed

Greater leeway for exhibitors setting up their own booth

“Local union leaders have stepped forward to help us transform the way Cobo Center operates, and they have joined the team that is putting Detroit back on the map as a viable and attractive location for trade shows conventions and corporate meetings,” said Larry Alexander, CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and chairman of the DRCFA.

The Cobo Center is in the midst of a $279 million capital improvement program, with a 40,000 square foot ballroom, 25,000 square feet of meeting rooms and a 30,000 square foot atrium opening this summer.

The five unions participating in the efficiency agreement were:

Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters

Local 58 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

Local 25 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, Rigging, Machinery Erectors & Reinforcing Ironworkers

Local 38 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Pictures Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada, AFL-CIO, CLC

Local 299 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

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