New Union Plan for Philly
Agreement with six unions bodes better days for convention center
Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Convention Center
might be over its labor pains, thanks to a new agreement
implemented in October between the center and unions.
The pact unites the six unions that work at the center. In
addition, David Gentile was named the new director of labor
services, tasked with stopping union infighting that drove up costs
and drove away events.
Center and local tourism officials are hoping this new
initiative will keep the peace while they lobby for public funding
to expand the facility.
Workers now perform each other’s tasks, exhibitors do some of
their own set-up and planners now order labor through
Philadelphia-based contractor Elliott-Lewis.
“For those who have perceived Philadelphia as the last place
they want to come to conduct business,” Gentile said, “we’re
Elliott-Lewis’ vice president of corporate development, Jim
Gentile (no relation to David), said exhibitors now save money
because the unions work together. “Show contractors are getting an
immediate benefit,” he noted.
David Gentile said his next job is to change perceptions. He
offered a vision of a kinder, gentler Philly, which supporters hope
will get the state legislature to approve funding for a proposed
center expansion as early as this month.
“The center board is happy with the labor agreement,” said John
Perzel, Philadelphia congressman and speaker of the house for
The response among planners has been mixed. Some believe
exhibitors are saving money; others contend labor at the center is
still too costly.
“They have a good plan in place, but it’s going to take a while
for them to get it running smoothly,” said Chrissy Hart, director,
conference and exhibits, for the Alexandria, Va.-based
International Association of Chiefs of Police.