Convention Center Says Bookings Are Up

Rise attributed to new labor agreement.

The Pennsylvania Convention Center has booked four new conventions in recent months, officials say, a strong trend that started in the aftermath of signing a new labor peace agreement. 

“I’ve heard the term sleeping giant in reference to Philadelphia, that we finally got it right and we’ve now awakened,” CEO John McNichol told CBS Philly.

But that doesn’t mean all is well on the labor front. Two unions that were part of the prior pact are still angry about their exclusion from the current pact. As CBS Philly notes: “The agreement, notably, was not signed in time by two unions — the teamsters and the carpenters — who continue to protest their exclusion from the center as a lock-out.” (Those unions have contended that the Convention Center did not have the authority to set a deadline for signing the agreement. The National Labor Relations Board disclaimed jurisdiction in the case; the Carpenters union said they would take their complaint to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.)

The new rules make it easier for outside vendors with simple setup jobs to do their own work without paying the center’s union labor to do it. That’s produced savings for convention-goers, officials say, that has made the center more enticing to convention bookers.