This Just In

Carpenters Stage Walkout at Pennsylvania Convention Centerion


Philadelphia, PA – Carpenters picketed the Pennsylvania Convention Center May 2 after failing to agree on a new contract with center management.

The convention center said talks with Carpenters Local 8 broke down after union negotiators refused to agree to relaxed work rules that would allow exhibitors to do more set-up work. The changes were described as being in line with similar changes to work rules at other major convention centers.

“These work rule changes are imperative for the long-term success of the center,” said Lorenz Hassenstein, SMG’s general manager for the center. “They will benefit the entire region, just as they will benefit members of the carpenters union.”

Management’s contention is that the changes will pay off in the long run for the unions by increasing bookings of trade shows and other events. The carpenters, however, see the changes as something that will reduce work hours and jobs for its members.

Ed Coryell, head of Local 8, told the Philadelphia Inquirer his team objected to allowing exhibitors to climb ladders and use electric screwdrivers on booths up to 600 square feet, double the booth size that exhibitors are currently allowed to work on. “I am trying to protect my members and not lose jobs,” he said.

Coryell also alleged that his members were locked out after SMG and the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority rejected the union’s offer to return to work under the terms of their previous contract, which expired April 30.

The wildcat strike occurred during the American Academy of Neurology’s AAN Annual Meeting which ends tomorrow. Other center unions remained on the job, but it was not known Friday how work on the exhibit floor will proceed.

A spokesman for the convention center said the event schedule for the coming weeks, which consists mainly of regional non-exhibition events, had not been altered.

The Pennsylvania Convention Center is ranked No. 20 on the Trade Show Executive World’s Top Convention Centers listing with 679,000 square feet of prime exhibit space.

Reach Lorenz Hassenstein at (800) 428-9000 or

TSE Data Center