Most Unions Sign Pa. Convention Center's Customer Satisfaction Agreement

The board of directors and management leaders of Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority met Tuesday morning to attempt to resolve labor issues and ratify a new Customer Satisfaction Agreement, a document designed to improve the labor structure and make the convention center a more competitive destination for groups. The board of directors unanimously approved the agreement, with two abstentions. Four of the six labor unions signed the new agreement, but Carpenters Union Local 8 - the union that held a one-day strike last week - and the Teamsters union both elected not to sign. The PCCA has temporary agreements in place with those two unions until May 10. According to a spokesperson, convention center leadership will meet immediately with the four unions that signed the agreement, to discuss changes to the jurisdictions of duty so that they can fulfill the work needs of their customers.

The PCCA, along with management company SMG, took a hard line against Carpenters Local 8 in particular. In Monday's open letter to stakeholders from board chairman Gregory J. Fox, PCCA president and CEO John J. McNichol, and SMG COO Bob McClintock, the May 1 strike resulted "in the loss of significant business to the center. This decision irrevocably changed the dynamics of what is an acceptable Customer Satisfaction Agreement. The damage caused by this union's decision to strike is immediate, far-reaching and quantifiable by comparison with lost business directly resulting from the previous strike this past summer."

The new Customer Satisfaction Agreement introduces a variety of provisions, including:
• Expanded exhibitor rights, including the ability to use power tools and ladders when setting up their booths, and the ability to perform work on booths of up to 600 square feet;
• The ability of convention center management to call on a core workforce of trade union members, ensuring those members have a greater understanding of the convention center and its customers; and
• Better jurisdictional stability for the unions that work in the building, consistent work hours and the establishment of a safety committee.

The four unions that signed the agreement are the Laborers' International Local 332, Stagehands Local 8, IBEW Local 98 and Iron Workers Local 405.