Thursday, July 30, 2015

My name is Debs

The unions are killing the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It's got to stop and I know the best person for the job

My name is Debs

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Eugene V. Debs

My middle name. I’m named after Eugene Victor Debs, a labor leader (and Socialist presidential candidate) of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

He was a great man, a great American. I was, and am, union to my bones.

For me, a union is right until proven wrong, in the same way any American is innocent until proven guilty.

With that in mind, I believe a strong case has been made against the craft unions that work in (some would say infest) the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

They are f’n killing the (taxpayer-funded) goose that was supposed to lay the golden egg.

As has been fully reported, over many years in both the Daily News and Inquirer, the “big” conventions, which bring in multi-millions in dollars, thanks to hundreds of thousands of visitors, are steering away from Philadelphia because of the high, burdensome and unpredictable labor costs.

In short, organized labor is freaking killing us.

Eugene Victor Debs didn’t sign up for that. And neither did I.

Among the craft unions — electricians, carpenters, stage hands, laborers, riggers and teamsters — the worst offenders are the carpenters, by most accounts.  

I just got through looking at a document online titled the “Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority Customer Satisfaction Agreement” dated June 2003.

So this craft crap has been going on for at least a decade. As for customer satisfaction, to paraphrase the Stones, they ain’t getting any.

As a union guy, when there’s a problem, I generally say, “Go check out management. They’re in charge, they’re probably screwups.”

Not in this case, sadly.

Between featherbedding, outdated work rules, rampant (unnecessary) overtime, we are being screwed. The PCC should be a cash cow for the city, not just for the unions.

Every union member is guaranteed a fair, middle-class wage. They get vacations and pensions and health insurance — and God bless the unions for that.

But I don’t bless rape and pillage and plunder. An exhibitor should be able to plug in a lamp without a union electrician and stick a thumb tack in a wall without a union carpenter. (Examples may be slight exaggerations. But only slight.)

Yes, yes, yes, there have been improvements of the years, but the proof is in the pudding and we are losing repeat business from conventioneers who have been burned and avoided by others who have heard the horror stories.

PCC has just changed management companies.

That’s not likely to help.

What’s needed is an attitude adjustment for the unions, a whip-cracker.

Won’t that set them ablaze?

Not if it is someone in whom they have total trust.

Who’s that? U.S. Rep Bob Brady.

Still looking online, I see a July 25, 2002 Daily News editorial saying Brady is “riding to the rescue” of PPC. He’s gonna straighten out the union mess.

It didn’t take the first time.

Brady needs to try again and this time take names and kick ass.

Carpenter ass. Brady is a member of the Carpenters Union.

It’s time for brass knucks and mattresses.

Daily News Columnist
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About this blog
Stu Bykofsky has been a columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News since 1987. Prior to the column, his assignments included theater critic, TV critic, copy editor, general assignment features reporter. He supports civil-rights and animal causes, he opposes political correctness, bicycles on the sidewalk and most other forms of selfishness and stupidity.
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