Carpenters Union Sued for Racketeering

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The battle between the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the ousted carpenters union has taken another ugly turn: Thursday afternoon, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA) filed a federal RICO complaint against the union, as a whole as well as against specific members.

Named defendants are Edward Coryell Sr., Edward Coryell Jr., J.R. Hocker, Richard Rivera, Ronald Curran, Kenyatta Bundy and Richard Washlick, as well as 10 John Does.

The complaint outlines the entire history of the conflict, starting with the carpenters’ initial refusal to sign the new customer service agreement that the other unions signed. (The carpenters later signed the agreement, but after a center-set deadline to do so.) The suit characterizes Ed Coryell Sr.’s negotiations as “belligerent brinksmanship,” and says when that failed, the union launched “a campaign of illegal violence and intimidation” including “illegal and disruptive mass picketing and protests; physical intimidation, harassment, stalking, and assault and battery; verbal intimidation, harassment, race-baiting, and threats; and the destruction of property.”

Such behavior, the suit alleges, did serious harm to the Convention Center financially “in the form of property damage, lost business, and added expenses for security, customer and exhibitor relations, and legal fees.” The center seeks more than $1 million and a total end to the union’s alleged bad behavior.

The carpenters wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.

So that’s the case, in a nutshell. But the complaint, as it must, gets into some pretty extensive detail about what, allegedly, the carpenters did. Let’s break down the allegations:

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Would Exhibitors Flee if Carpenters Returned to Convention Center?

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

If the carpenters union returns to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Sue Hueg wants none of it.

Hueg, the vice president of events for National Business Media has seen it both ways — shows that involved the carpenters and one that didn’t. The difference between the two, she said, was unmistakable.

“They’re very difficult to work with, they’re back in the 1800s,” Hueg said of the carpenters and their work rules, which she said frequently forced exhibitors to unnecessarily rely on union labor to build convention displays that vendors could build themselves. That made convention-going in Philly both difficult and expensive, she said.

“We need hard-working, customer-service-oriented people who understand exhibitors are on a budget,” Hueg said. “This is not hard to understand.”  Read more »

Philly Film Festival Will Host a Pop-Up Film Festival at the Flower Show

Ghostbusters is among the films playing at Philadelphia Film Society's pop-up film festival at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Ghostbusters is among the films playing at Philadelphia Film Society’s pop-up film festival at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

This year’s Philadelphia Flower Show is themed “Celebrate the Movies,” so it’s no wonder they’ve teamed up with the Philadelphia Film Society on a pop-up film festival that will take place in the Grand Hall of the Pennsylvania Convention Center throughout the run of the Flower Show. Among the films being shown are classics, like Ghostbusters, Wizard of Oz and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, all shown on loop during regular show hours. Check out the full schedule below:

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Teamsters, Carpenters Lose Latest Bid to Return to Convention Center

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The Teamsters and Carpenters unions have reportedly lost their latest bid to return to work at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The two unions had filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the center, where they’ve been shut out since a coalition of other Philadelphia unions signed a work agreement last year. An official said Monday that a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board had dismissed the complaint, NewsWorks reports.  The unions have 20 days to appeal to the full board, reports the Inquirer, pending a written report from the examiner who dismissed the complaint.

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Labor Peace at Convention Center Gets Big Test

Convention-Center

CBS Philly reports that the still-young labor agreement at the Pennsylvania Convention Center gets a big test this week when the Infectious Diseases Society of America meets here.

Why? Because the society is a return visitor, and will be able help local officials assess if the agreement they struck — in which some of the unions made concessions in exchange for the promise of more jobs — has led to an improved experience for customers at the convention center. Previous problems at the center were blamed on overly onerous labor rules that were reportedly costly and irritating to convention attendees.

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Korean Bribes Helped Build Convention Center, Feds Say

Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced it had seized $500,000 from former South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan. Obviously, there is a Philadelphia connection: The money seized from Chun was bribe money laundered through the Convention Center expansion.

Chun was South Korea’s president in the 1980s and owes the country $143.5 million from corruption during his time in office. He’s considered the country’s last military strongman. He was sentenced to death in the 1990s, but it was commuted.

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Private Firm Takes Over Convention Center Operations

It’s not been so long since the Pennsylvania Convention Center underwent a massive expansion. It hasn’t mattered much; bookings at the center are on the wane, and labor issues have borne much of the blame. Now, CBS Philly reports, operations are finally being shifted to control of a private company, Conshohocken-based SMG, to see if the situation can be fixed.

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