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New Report Increases Tension Between Pennsylvania Convention Center And Its Unions

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A new report about the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s operations is adding fuel to tensions between the Center and the unions that work there.

The report was commissioned by state officials to look at top-to-bottom operations of the Convention Center. One finding concluded that because convention organizers must use union workers, the city is losing convention bookings, and that in turn has cost the city’s hotels 400,000 room nights since 2007.

Ahmeena Young, CEO of the Convention Center, says this puts the center at a big disadvantage.

”The concern is not with the skill level of the labor unions, but the work rules as they apply to six different unions. We are going to have to make some changes with the unions. We are not sure where we’re going to land, but we have to make some changes. Our customers are demanding it,” said Young

But Pat Gillespie, head of the Building Trades Council, says the unions are being made out to be the fall guy.

”For them to point to, and make, organized labor a scapegoat is a tragedy. It just demonstrates once again that people really don’t know the business they’re supposed to be in,” said Gillepsie

Gillespie says the Center is losing business because it is run inefficiently, not because of union costs. The Convention Center opens its greatly expanded floor space in just two months.

Reported by Mike Dunn, KYW City Hall bureau chief

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