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Pa. Convention Center Says Shows Are Smoother, Less Expensive Under New Union Rules

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- An internal report says new rules at the Pennsylvania Convention Center translated to high-octane labor savings at this year's Philadelphia Auto Show.

The report says labor costs at this year's show were down 20 percent.  It was the first auto show since the May 2014 agreement that resulted in stagehands taking the place of Carpenters' Union workers.

John McNichol, CEO of the Convention Center Authority, says the convention center's union workforce was 13 percent smaller for this year's auto show, with hours worked down 18 percent.

"The message is, Philadelphia is a great place to be right now.  And the savings are real, and they're repeatable," he told KYW Newsradio this morning.

But carpenters' union spokesman Marty O'Rourke called the report "bogus," saying the 2015 auto show had fewer booths and structures for workers to install and take down.

"It was a pathetic, pathetic PR stunt to basically deceive the public to think things are good there," he said.

McNichol disputes O'Rourke's main assertion.

"Our critics will be our critics," he said.  "But at the end of the day, (the show) had the same number of cars.  They used the same number of square footage, they used the same amount of carpet."

McNichol says the so-called Customer Satisfaction Agreement is the reason complaints are down and bookings are up, and the reason that conventions such as the American Heart Association's 2019 gathering are choosing Philadelphia.


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