Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board Now Will Hold Hearings for Unions Locked Out of Pennsylvania CC

April 20, 2015

Almost one year ago, unions serving the Pennsylvania Convention Center were asked to sign a new “Customer Service Agreement” that would allow exhibitors to do more of their own work at the venue, and two of the six unions, Carpenters Local 8 and Teamsters Local 107, opted out.

As a result, the four unions who signed the agreement continued working in the center, and the two others were locked out.  

The Carpenters and Teamsters, who were turned down when they requested hearings in front of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board last year to dispute that decision, now will have the opportunity to have their grievances heard with the board’s Hearing Examiner recently agreeing to hold hearings on whether the PLRB has jurisdiction on the issue.

“This has always been a process,” said Bob McClintock, COO of the facility’s manager, SMG. “We always assumed there would be a lot of twists and turns. We are obviously disappointed.”

Calls to the unions by TSNN were not returned, but local press quoted:  "The Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters is pleased that the PLRB has reversed its earlier dismissal of the union's charges and has agreed to hold hearings on the lockout of carpenters from the convention center," said Martin O'Rourke, a spokesman for the union.

Jack Ferguson, president and CEO of the Philadelphoa Convention & Visitors Bureau, said, "We were dismayed to learn last Friday that the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) has reversed a decision made earlier this year to dismiss complaints by the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters and Teamsters Local 107 that the two unions had been improperly banned from the facility."

He added, "To the center's knowledge, there has been no new evidence introduced since the official PLRB ruling, but this unprecedented reversal has opened the door for hearings on the issue to be scheduled. While a timeframe for these hearings has not been made available by the PLRB, we do know that this process will take time."

With the new customer service agreement that was enacted last year and allowed exhibitors to do more smaller tasks, as well as other improvements in labor rules, shows had started flocking back to the center.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association chose Philadelphia as the host city for its 2018 Conference and Exposition (AIHce), which draws 13,608 total hotel room nights and is expected to generate more than $16.2 million in economic impact.

The show was last held in Philadelphia in 2007, but had said it would not be back until the labor issues it encountered were resolved.

The National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) also selected Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Convention Center as the hosts for its 2017 Conference and Exposition that will attract 8,000 attendees and is expected to generate more than $19.5 million in economic impact for the Philadelphia region.

Jesse Tyson, president and CEO, NBMBAA, said, “With more customer-friendly work rules now in place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, we are pleased to be bringing our Conference & Expo back to Philadelphia in 2017.”

McClintock added that right now the destination is just focusing on the positive.

Since the new customer service agreement was signed last year, he said, “We’ve had 28 new pieces of business, with an $850 million (estimated) economic impact.”

McClintock added of the Labor Relation Board’s decision, “If you look very closely at where we have gotten and where we are, we consider this to be a blip on the radar. They had a vision and goal here to make this Philadelphia a great place to do a show, and they are committed to that path. The goal remains the same.”

Ferguson added, "We remain confident that once all of the facts that led to the initial dismissal are reviewed, the PLRB ruling in our favor will be upheld. We are watching closely and we know that our customers are as well, as such, we will continue with open and transparent communication as facts are made available."

As of now, no new hearing date for the Carpenters and Teamsters with the PLRB has been set.

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