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by Kaylee Hultgren | April 01, 2010

Last summer, Team San Jose, which runs the San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau and the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, implemented an exclusive labor policy with local San Jose Teamsters, much to the chagrin of industry labor officials  and others.

Dan Fenton, Team San Jose's president and CEO, claims the agreement guaranteed lower pricing and more flexibility, including more flexible start times and reduced minimum hours -- from eight to four -- per shift. However, Steve Hacker, CAE, the president of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, and representatives of the International Center for Exhibitor and Event Marketing, the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association and the Society of Independent Show Organizers asserted that the new policy neglected to honor labor agreements already in place, such as those made with San Francisco Teamsters.

At press time, Team San Jose had reached something of a compromise. As a result of talks between Team San Jose and the so-called decorator community (meaning general contractors), decorators have been given the option either to contract local labor directly or through Team San Jose. The Exhibition Services & Contractors Association expressed its approval of the modification, adding that several summits between Team San Jose and industry stakeholders have begun to focus on San Jose as a cost-effective destination while at the same time remaining exhibition-friendly.

According to Fenton, "Over the last two months, we've been working with the decorators on how to mutually serve our goals. We agreed that they would be able to enter into direct agreements with local Teamsters instead of going through us, which will allow them to have more sense of where the dollars are. From our perspective, it keeps our goals of availability and flexibility, including more flexible start times and reduced minimum hours."

The groups will continue talks through this year, says Fenton. "We are working with senior management from Freeman and GES. The goal is to reach agreements that are done with our local labor forces and done in a way that makes San Jose an attraction destination."