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“My top priority is making the Pennsylvania Convention Center more competitive so that we can deliver our customers the best possible experience, which will generate increased work opportunities for working families and the region’s hospitality industry,” said Greg Fox, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.  “The Board has identified four key focus areas to improve our ability to compete in the global convention and meeting industry: management operations, the existing labor supplier model, work rules, and billing transparency for our customers.”

“As we entered negotiations on the collective bargaining agreement, we asked board members and staff to identify changes needed to make the building more attractive to customers and, in turn, generate increased man hours for the men and women who make up our union workforce,” continued Fox.  “Based on customer feedback, we identified changes to our exhibitor rights as a top priority to improve our ability to compete with peer facilities in the industry.”

“Increased convention business should be the top priority of every stakeholder, and I thought we were making excellent progress on this issue,” said Fox.  “Our contract negotiators offered a generous 10-year proposal that provided an annual 3 percent pay increase for our labor force while making the changes to exhibitor rights that were necessary to increase the number of convention and other bookings at the Center.  These changes were apparently not well received by the Carpenters Union, which notified us late last night of their intention to go on strike.“

“This action comes as a complete surprise to the Center, which has been acting in a good faith effort to generate increased work opportunities for union members by attracting more shows and conventions to our facility,” Fox said.  “We encouraged union leadership to offer their own proposals on exhibitor rights but have received no response, which makes their decision to strike even more puzzling, especially since we remain in ongoing labor negotiations.  Our only concern is making the Center more competitive by providing customers and exhibitors with the same rights they have at peer facilities without impacting safety and security.”

“The Board has strategically and aggressively sought to implement the changes needed to address customer concerns and eliminate obstacles to booking the top conventions in the country,” said Fox.  “Our first step was bringing in SMG to provide a new approach to managing the facility.  Addressing work rules is our next top priority.  We believe that the men and women who serve in our union workforce will see that changes to the existing work rules will result in an increase in convention bookings and generate increased work opportunities in the long-term.  Based on customer feedback, the status quo is clearly unacceptable.”