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Unions, convention center spar on labor pact

The PA Convention Center chief says Carpenters and Teamsters are out of work after letting contract deadline expire.

CARPENTERS AND Teamsters union members who show up for work at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Monday will be turned away, says the center's CEO.

John McNichol, president and CEO of the center, said the unions let a deadline expire without agreeing to new work rules and the deal is now off the table.

Of the six unions that staff the center, Carpenters Local 8 and Teamsters Local 107 rejected the new work rules, which make it easier for exhibitors to set up shop at conventions.

McNichol said that yesterday Ed Coryell Sr., head of the Carpenters Union Local 8, "dropped off a signed copy of the customer satisfaction agreement that had been offered to all six unions with a deadline of May 5 at 11:59 p.m.

"I advised Mr. Coryell that I would respond to him in writing, so there would be no confusion. It is the board's position that the deal is no longer available to any union that did not sign prior to the deadline."

But Marty O'Rourke, spokesman for Local 8, said yesterday that the deadline for signing is today, not May 5.

"So everybody signed the contract. They had until May 10 to sign the contract. They've signed and they're ready to go to work on Monday," O'Rourke said. "At this point, the Carpenters figure, let's just move forward."

Today is the final day of the old contract extension for all unionized workers at the convention center, which include Stagehands, Riggers, Laborers and Electrical Workers.

Tom Kohn, attorney for the Teamsters' union, echoed O'Rourke.

"They're expecting to go back to work on Monday," he said.

But McNichol remains firm that these expectations are misguided - that the deadline has expired. He said the four signatory unions will be absorbing the work the Carpenters and Teamsters would normally do.

"In writing, I'll be reiterating the board's position," he said. "I will remind them that they had been notified about that several times, prior to the deadline. Their opportunity to be part of this document moving forward expired at 11:59 p.m. on May 5."