If union carpenters were the losers when their leaders declined to sign a new customer satisfaction agreement at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in May 2014, union stagehands were the winners.
It was IATSE Local 8 along with the Laborers union that picked up the 150,000 to 200,000 man hours that the carpenters lost.
The carpenters "offered to pay our legal bills" if the stagehands didn't sign, stagehands' union leader Michael Barnes testified Tuesday morning at a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board hearing.
Barnes declined and said his union would sign the agreement and would not join carpenters on the picket line.
The carpenters union filed an unfair practice charge against the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority saying the Authority cut them out of their work in retaliation for trying to protect their work. The Authority denies that.
Barnes was testifying on behalf of the Authority. He said his union and the other unions who signed the agreement had a "strong consensus" that signing would be in the best interest of the city's convention business.
After Barnes spoke, John Dougherty, who leads IBEW Local 98, testified next on behalf of the Authority.
He said there was "absolutely not" an effort to oust the carpenters from the center.
He said that in the hours leading up to the 11:59 pm May 5 deadline to sign the agreement, he called the leaders of the carpenters' union to convince them to sign the document.
"From 10 pm to 12, I was on the phone for two hours," Dougherty said.
He said he called union leader Edward J. Coryell Sr., "but after a certain time he stopped answering my calls."
After Dougherty left, Ryan Boyer, a leader of the Laborers union and a member of the Authority Board, testified.
The Board decided, he said, that "we needed a new customer-friendly deal to increase bookings."
The Center had been losing business due to labor costs and inefficiencies, he said.
Boyer said that Coryell, who was also a board member, told board members at an emergency board meeting that he'd never sign.
Coryell knew the consequences of his remarks, Boyer said, that "we're going to cut [the carpenters'] jurisdiction."