Team San Jose Revisits Teamsters Exclusive

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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San Jose, CA – City leaders gave Team San Jose until mid-January to review the controversial labor exclusive granted to the Teamsters for work performed at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

The city council voted in December to require Team San Jose to report back by January 12 on its justification for naming the San Jose Teamsters local the exclusive workforce for the center. The pact, which went into effect with little advance notice in August, stunned trade show organizers and general services contractors, who predicted higher costs and possible legal problems over existing contracts with the San Francisco Teamsters local.

Some industry leaders publicly questioned the propriety of a public building being involved in the provision of labor. Others predicted the situation would cause show organizers to avoid San Jose.

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) publicly called on Team San Jose to retract the agreement.

The council did not specifically call for the agreement to be scuttled, but city hall and the San Jose Mercury News have been sharply critical recently. A December 14 editorial in the newspaper called the agreement a “minefield” and expressed concern that bad publicity could drive away events and undermine plans to renovate the building.

“Team San Jose should have anticipated this problem — but it appears that the change was not vetted by its whole board, some of whose members might have raised questions,” the editorial said. “Because the publicly-owned convention center is affected, the city needs assurances of better governance for the organization.”

Team San Jose, a public corporation formed in 2004 to oversee McEnery and a collection of cultural facilities in San Jose, has portrayed the Teamsters deal as providing provide labor stability, flexibility and long-term cost savings for show organizers. The board of directors includes 27 representatives of various stakeholders, including the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council.

There was no immediate comment from Team San Jose.

Reach Daniel Fenton, president and CEO of Team San Jose, at (408) 295-9600 or dfenton@sanjose.org