Labor Peace at Convention Center Gets Big Test

A return visitor will help officials see if changes mean improvements for customers.

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.

Convention Center General Manager Lorenz Hassenstein says he thinks the Society will see improvement since its last meeting here in 2009.

“The temperament and the mood on the floor as the event builds and breaks down is much better,” Hassenstein says. “The work flow and the process of how the work gets done is much clear and more efficient. People are friendlier. Exhibitors will have a much better experience and I think overall things will run smoother than they did in the past.”

Not all is peaceful. The Carpenters and Teamsters’ unions did not sign the agreement by the deadline and have been locked out of work participation at the center. They continue to demonstrate weekly.