Carpenters: convention center protests will continue

Union members who claim they were ousted from a contract with the Pennsylvania Convention Center will continue to fight the decision, even after two labor boards rejected their filed complaint.

“Protests will continue until this lockout ends,” said Marty O’Rouke, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters.

The Pennsylvania Convention Center first stopped hiring the Carpenters and Teamsters unions after those unions did not sign a new contract in May 2013.

The contracts related to the union performing all labor required for events held at the Convention Center – ranging from setting up booths to carrying boxes and setting up electrical equipment for vendors.

The unions claimed they were misinformed regarding the deadline for the contract and picketed outside the Convention Center for days.

In July, the National Labor Relations Board rejected their complaint, stating that the Board did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

This week, a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board hearing examiner issued a decision that ruled they did not have jurisdiction to handle the case, either.

The union “vehemently disagrees with the finding of this individual hearing examiner,” said Carpenters leader Edward Coryell in a statement. “We believe his decision is incorrect and will not be upheld by the full PLRB board.”

At issue is whether the unions were in contracts with the Pennsylvania Convention Center, or with Elliott Lewis, a private contractor. According to Coryell, the state and national boards contradicted each other.

“The finding by a PLRB hearing examiner totally contradicts the NLRB decision that found the dispute was between the Carpenters and the Convention Center — not Elliott Lewis. Therefore the NLRB had no jurisdiction,” Coryell said.

The NLRB decision reportedly found that the union workers were employed by the state-run Convention Center Authority.

Leadership from Teamsters Union Local 107 did not respond to a request for comment.

All work from the canceled contracts was distributed to the four other unions who signed new contracts to work at the convention center — Electricians Local 98, Laborers Local 332 and the Stagehands Local 8 and Iron Workers 405.

O’Rourke declined to comment on what steps the Carpenters will take next.

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