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May 2, 2014

Carpenter’s union on strike at PA Convention Center

For the second time in the past 12 months, the carpenter’s union at the Pennsylvania Convention Center is on strike.

The Carpenters Local 8 is striking due to work-rule changes. The Convention Center’s board of directors says the work-rule changes “would provide exhibitors with greater flexibility to build their booths and displays” as they can in other cities. Negotiations had been ongoing for months.

The strike comes as the Convention Center is hosting the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) which is expected to bring 13,000 people to the region and generate a $35 million economic impact, according to Convention Center management. It is unclear exactly how the strike will affect the conference.

Back in December, SMG took over day-to-day operations for the struggling venue after a difficult year. SMG is a private company that manages more than 230 facilities worldwide including nearly 70 convention centers in the United States.

Next week is supposed to be a busy one for the Convention Center, with events for the Broad Street Run, Konami, the American Cancer Society, and Commonwealth Connections.

“Over the course of months of discussions, the Center and our management team at SMG have provided ample evidence to union leadership that work rule changes in Chicago and other venues have benefitted unions by attracting more business and customers, resulting in more work hours for union members,” said Gregory J. Fox, chairman of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA). “It is important for everyone to look to the future and move past the current policies that have hindered the Center’s growth and success. I am concerned that the Carpenters are hurting their own membership and tens of thousands of hospitality jobs in the region that rely on the major shows and events hosted by the Center.”

Carpenters Local 8 Business Manager Ed Coryell Sr. could not be immediately reached for comment. But union’s website had the following message for its members.

“Please be advised that, effective Midnight, May 1, 2014, the MRC is ON STRIKE against the The Construction Contractors Council, AGC Labor Division. This action is necessary because the CCC demanded a $13.00 per hour decrease in your compensation package, among other things designated to erode your quality of life.”

The Carpenters Local 8 last went on strike in August 2013, and other unions followed suit in solidarity. Trade unions operating at the Convention Center include the Carpenters Local 8; Laborers’ International Local 332; Stagehands Local 8; IBEW Local 98; Teamsters Local 107; and Iron Workers Local 405.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal