Skepticism Surrounds Pa. Convention Center Claim It Cut Labor Costs

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PENNA. CONVENTION CENTER alleges labor costs dropped at Auto Show after it locked out Carpenters and Teamsters workforce. But industry insiders dispute this claim.

PENNA. CONVENTION CENTER alleges labor costs dropped at Auto Show after it locked out Carpenters and Teamsters workforce. But industry insiders dispute this claim.

While the Pennsylvania Convention Center released a report claiming lower labor costs at this year’s Auto Show compared to last year’s, a contractor who worked both shows says, “That’s just not true.”

The contractor, who asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisal from management, said, “this year’s Auto Show was much smaller than last year’s show. There were at least 60% fewer platforms and booths this year than last year. So it makes sense that labor costs would go down.”

The Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters also questioned the accuracy of the report.

Carpenters’ Union spokesman Martin O’Rourke said, “It makes perfect sense that if you build a 10-story high-rise one year and a 5-story high-rise the next, your labor costs will go down. That’s not rocket science.”

“With a smaller show this year than last, it’s ludicrous for the Convention Center to claim the reduced labor costs were the result of new work rules,” said O’Rourke.

O’Rourke called the Convention Center’s comparison between this year’s and last year’s Auto Shows “totally inaccurate and a pathetic PR stunt to deceive the public by trying to put a positive spin on a bad and deteriorating situation. Their numbers make no sense.”

Union Carpenters have been locked out from working at the Pennsylvania Convention Center since May of last year over a disputed deadline for signing a Customer Satisfaction Agreement. The Stagehands Union, new to the Convention Center, handled this year’s show.

Quoting excerpts from a story in the Philadelphia Business Journal by reporter Fran Hilario, the contractor commented on the labor situation inside the center, saying, “They’re putting their own PR spin on it to disguise how bad the labor situation is in there.

“Half of the contractors’ jobs went over budget and basic booths that once required two men and six hours to complete now required four men and almost a full day to complete. The skill of the workforce in general has really diminished.

“Contractors are basically paying to train labor on site while trying to make a profit on shows that require the utmost efficiency because of time constraints,” he said.

The Philadelphia Public Record heard similar comments from another contractor who worked this year’s Auto Show as well as past ones.. He too questioned the accuracy of the Convention Center’s claim, saying, “It’s pretty lame to go around beating your chest about lower labor costs that resulted from a smaller show.

“We heard rumors months ago that the show would be much smaller structurally because the Carpenters wouldn’t be here to do the job right. Management figured less structures, the less chance of the stagehands screwing up,” he said.

“Basically all labor calls doubled to ensure work was completed on schedule,” he asserted, adding, “50% of labor jobs going over budget.”

“They’re taking much, much longer to do the work because they don’t know how. It’s costing exhibitors more to put on shows at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and management is trying to cover it all up by putting out these bogus reports and telling us all to keep our mouths shut or we’re out too.”

As the papal visit nears and the Democratic National Committee prepares to hold its 2016 convention here, professional planners and local contractors are holding their breaths, hoping for the best.

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4 Responses to Skepticism Surrounds Pa. Convention Center Claim It Cut Labor Costs

  1. Hello,

    First of all, who is the author Sana? You speak of rocket science; it is not rocket science to comply with a deadline. The contractor stated in this writing sounds like a figment of your imagination. In closing, the general public should be wary of all things posted on social media. Thank you.

    Kool MO dew
    March 27, 2015 at 9:04 pm

  2. Is this a real newspaper? What a bunch of malarkey!

    Jon Breen
    March 27, 2015 at 9:46 pm

  3. Why do they also not add in the electricians’ time to the booth build in the previous articles by VonBergen & Co.?

    In the past, the Carpenters installed lighting and connected the power packs to the car batteries — not to mention drove the cars inside of the booth spaces. Odd attempt by management or VonBergen (both, I am assuming) in her articles at a truthful comparison.

    If the show was the same size or larger, they should have touted the drayage totals form 2014 and 2015 to prove the show was the same size or bigger, so I am assuming that this article is correct in the show possibly being smaller. Really misleading to not add in the electricians’ time to the booth build or the carpet installation.

    Jay
    March 31, 2015 at 12:10 pm

  4. We agree readers should be cautious when reading social media. We advise they rely information from a professional news source.

    This is the website of the Philadelphia Public Record newspaper, a print weekly that has been covering Philadelphia politics for 16 years. Its Editor and Publisher is Jim Tayoun. This post is the same article that was published in our Mar. 26, 2015 issue (p.2).

    editor @pr
    April 2, 2015 at 10:50 am

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