Jane M. Von Bergen, Inquirer Staff Writer
Last updated: Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 1:08 AM
Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015, 6:54 PM
Union carpenters and Teamsters angling to regain their jobs at the Convention Center had their hopes thwarted Monday when a hearing examiner for the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board said the board did not have jurisdiction to handle a complaint filed by the two unions.
The unions, which have been staging protests outside the Convention Center for months, lost the right to work there in May, when they did not sign a new customer-satisfaction agreement by a deadline set by the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority board.
The two unions signed a few days later. By that time, however, the unions had lost the ability to work in the hall, and their hours were divided among the four remaining unions and the center’s outside management company, West Conshohocken-based SMG.
The unions filed unfair-labor-practice complaints with the state Labor Relations Board, which set hearings for Feb. 11 and 12 pending a decision on jurisdiction. With his ruling, hearing examiner Jack Marino canceled the hearings.
The Convention Center Authority expressed satisfaction that Marino had agreed with its argument that the center, a public entity, did not directly employ the union workers and that therefore, the PLRB, which handles public-employee labor issues, did not have jurisdiction.”We believe – and have maintained for months – that the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority acted in a fair manner and within the law,” John McNichol, president and CEO of the authority, said in a statement.
The leader of the Carpenters union had a different reaction.
“The Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters vehemently disagrees with the finding of this individual hearing examiner,” Edward Coryell, business manager and secretary, said in a statement.
The council “will continue to vigorously fight this unfair and illegal lockout of our members,” Coryell wrote.
William Hamilton, who heads Teamsters Local 107, could not be reached for comment.
After Marino issues a formal written opinion, the unions will have 20 days to appeal to the Labor Relations Board.
The issue turned on which entity actually employs the workers who set up and dismantle trade shows and conventions at the center. Are they employees of the Convention Center Authority, which is under state control; of the labor contractor, a private-sector business; or both?
On Monday, Marino wrote that the PLRB did not have jurisdiction because the workers were not employed by the Convention Center Authority, nor was the authority a joint employer with the contractor, Elliott-Lewis, a Philadelphia-based company.
Under the system, groups bringing conventions into the centers contact Elliott-Lewis for labor. Elliott-Lewis calls the union halls, secures the workers, and handles payroll.
In July, the National Labor Relations Board said it did not have jurisdiction because it does not handle complaints involving public entities. After that ruling, the unions took their case to the PLRB.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150203_Hearing_examiner__PLRB_has_no_jurisdiction_in_Convention_Center_unions__complaint.html#bc8vtElsAl1LMvma.99