Changes at the PA Convention Center Elicit Positive Reactions


We here at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, SMG, and the PHLCVB are excited about the new changes at the Center designed to make the center more competitive and address customer concerns as it relates to work force rules, exhibitor rights, and better management of the show floor to help reduce customer costs. But we’re not the only ones who are excited by the changes as these news articles clearly show:

“The bold stand that the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA) and SMG are taking to improve the competitiveness of its destination is the right step for the trade show and meetings industry… I believe these reasonable work rule changes will make Philadelphia a more attractive destination.”

Commentary by Steve Moster in Trade Show News Network (TSNN),” Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority’s Stand is a Refreshing Change,” May 9, 2014.

“The dismantling of the 2014 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology conference at the Convention Center on Thursday was the first test of new work rules, and with four unions doing tasks that used to be done by six unions. Not unexpectedly, there was a problem: The work got done too fast. Based on past experience, the company producing the conference told trucks to pick up the dismantled exhibits at the center at 6 p.m. But union crews at the center had almost everything packed up and ready to go by 3 p.m.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Six minus two equals a quick and easy job” May 15, 2014

The four unions still under contract at the Pennsylvania Convention Center have pledged not to file any labor grievances for six months — and to help lure business to the center by traveling to other cities and industry events to chat up potential clients. “If there is an opportunity for us to win new business, we want to be a part of that effort and win over potential customers with a renewed focus on hospitality and customer service,” the leaders of those unions — IBEW Local 98, Iron Workers Local 405, Laborers Local 332 and Stagehands Local 8 — wrote in a letter to the various state and local governing bodies that oversee the center… Of the promise to avoid filing grievances for six months, the leaders said: “We want to allow for sufficient time needed to amicably work through issues for the betterment of the Center.”

Philadelphia Magazine, “Unions Offer to Hit the Road to Drum Up Convention Business,” May 16, 2014

With two less unions, move out of the 2014 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology conference, the world’s largest industrial biotechnology event for business leaders, investors and policy makers, went smoothly at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on May 15… Show officials not only praised the work performed by the four unions present, but have also secured future events at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. “There didn’t seem to be any issues whatsoever,” said Paul Winters, spokesperson for show producer Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “The success of this week gives us high expectations for next year.”

Exhibit City News, “Smooth move out under new Philly work rules,” May 16, 2014.

“A new, more flexible, 10-year contract with four unions aims to put Pennsylvania Convention Center back in the competition for large exhibitions…. The new Customer Service Agreement, signed by four of the six unions that had already been working at the convention center, aims to make business more customer-friendly. It doubles the square footage in which exhibitors are able to work on their own space to 600, and increases the activities the customers are allowed to perform. Exhibitors may now used battery-operated power tools and step stools, as well as hang signs or graphics and install or remove audio/visual equipment…

The contract states that ‘Each Labor Union shall establish a pool of Foremen, comprised of union members in good standing who have the requisite skills and abilities for supervising Show Workers at the Convention Center and who have been selected, hospitality trained and drug tested,’ adding that those members will have preference over other union members to work at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The PCCA and PCVB stressed that this doesn’t lower the rate that the union workers will be paid; it just makes the convention center a more cost-effective option for customers because the jurisdictions are more flexible.”

Venues Today, “Convention Center Signs Agreement with Unions,” May 20, 2014.

“We also believe that the agreement represents the best interests of our union members… enabling the Center to compete more effectively for convention and trade show business in a very competitive industry market will bring in additional customers, creating more work hours for our members. “ What’s more, the letter [sent by four trade unions performing work at the Center to political leaders in Pennsylvania] states, the rules will make the convention center more competitive, and result in more bookings and thus more work for Philadelphia’s tourism and hospitality industry. And the four union leaders say they are fully committed to making the new work rules a success: “As a demonstration of our commitment, each of our unions have pledged not to file any work grievances or initiate labor disputes for at least six months, because we want to allow for sufficient time needed to amicably work through issues for the betterment of the Center.”

Meetings and Conventions Magazine, “Labor Unions Express Support for Pa. Convention Center Board,” May 16, 2014.

“There was nothing but harmony inside [among the four unions working under the new Customer Satisfaction Agreement] , said Michael Barnes, the Stagehands’ leader. “I think it went smoothly,” he said. Minor problems, he said, disappeared. For example, he said, under previous work rules the Laborers would hang the pipe borders between exhibitors’ stands. Then the Carpenters would have to take down the pipe borders, thread the pipe through the draperies, and rehang them, requiring the same piece of pipe to be handled twice. On Monday, Barnes said, “it was a lot simpler, a lot easier, and a lot more efficient.”

Philadelphia Inquirer, “Tensions High as Unions Clash,” May 12, 2014


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