City Council this morning unanimously approved an agreement to run the expanded Convention Center, with a provision hammered out last week to force the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council to adopt the city's minority hiring goals and submit to Council oversight of individual minority inclusion plans for each union.

Council's ratification of the agreement, which spells out how the $700 million Convention Center expansion will be built and run between city, state, and Convention Center Authority, was Gov. Rendell's condition for releasing state funds for the project. But two other conditions must still be met for that to happen -- the authority must sign a project labor agreement with the Building Trades, and Council must approve the unions' individual diversity plans.

This is supposed to happen within the next three weeks to meet the Convention Center's timetable for sending out bids and beginning construction in March, with a September 2010 scheduled completion.

The requirement that unions develop their own minority inclusion plans came in a late-night legislative session last Thursday in which Council took out a proposed amendment that would have opened the Convention Center construction to non-union workers. Council members proposed making the project an open shop because, they claimed, the unions have failed to recruit minorities in a meaningful way.

City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, one of the driving forces behind the new amendment, said "there's a lot of work to be done" to determine who the unions will work with the city's hiring goals, which include 50 percent minority and women workforce on the Convention Center project. "Today is not the end," Miller said.

Contact Jeff Shields at or 215-854-4565