Washington, DC Convention Center Becomes a ‘Sobriety Checkpoint’; Landmark Program Designed to Prevent Substance Abuse During Move-In/Out

RENEE DILULIO, SENIOR EDITOR
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Washington, DC – On December 8th, the Washington, DC Convention Center unveiled a historic Safety and Substance Abuse Prevention Program that will take effect in three weeks.  Here’s how labor unions, local service contractors and center officials made it happen — and why it outshines other agreements on substance testing.

Starting January 1, 2005, all contractors providing services on the show floor of the Washington, DC Convention Center will be required to  secure a Right of Entry permit.  This mandates that they comply with all WCCA rules, including a show site testing policy and random drug testing. How is it different and better than other  programs?  It is the first of its kind in the trade show industry. Previous collective bargaining agreements allowed only limited or optional substance testing.

Mobley Says Work Environment Will Be Safer

The program is intended to eliminate the negative effects of illegal drug use as well as the abuse of alcohol and legal drugs. The agreement applies to general service contractors, official show contractors and exhibitor-appointed contractors (EACs). “We believe that by partnering with the general service contractor,  the exhibitor-appointed contractors and labor, we will create the safest work environment possible,” says Tom Mobley, General Manager & CEO of the WCCA. “This will further enhance our ability to provide our clients with the best service,” he says.

Carpenters Say Program Will Lead to More Employment Opportunities

“Union workers play an integral role in making the new Washington Convention Center an overwhelming success,” said Ken Viscovich, Trade Show Director, United Brotherhood of Carpenters.   He says the program will further enhance Washington DC’s reputation and will enable the WCCA to contract more shows.  This will lead to more employment opportunities for the labor workforce, he says.

Hoffa Cites Mutual Benefits

“The Washington, DC unions’ initiative is a shining example of a joint labor-management program aimed at improving workplace safety,” said James P. Hoffa, President of the Teamsters Union.  “I congratulate the leadership of the local unions in their pioneering effort to recognize the mutual return of positive benefits this program will have to the industry and the interests at stake.”

ESCA and EACA Give the Program a Thumbs Up

The program is strongly supported by various industry associations and has been officially endorsed by the Exhibition Services and Contractors Association (ESCA). “We look forward to working with other centers and labor workforces nationwide to incorporate similar programs,” says Susan L. Schwartz, CEM, ESCA’s Executive Director. “Safe work environments create a more efficient and cost efficient environment.”

The Board of Directors of the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association (EACA) recently sent a formal letter of endorsement of the new policy to the Washington, DC Convention Center. In the December 8th edition of the EACA Showfloor Buzz, Jim Wurm, Executive Director writes, “EACA applauds the decision by the Washington Convention Center to institute this rule and provide for the greater safety of its members.”

The following organizations collaborated on the agreement:

Service Contractors

  • Arata Exposition Services, Tom Arata, Jr., General Manager
  • Brede Exposition Service, Scott Staub, Operations Manager
  • Champion Exposition Services, Jim Reese, Executive Vice President National Sales and Marketing
  • Freeman, Mike O’Neil, General Manager Washington, DC
  • GES Exposition Services, Joe Sangregorio, Regional Director, Human Resources/Labor Relation
  • Hargrove, Inc., Ken Bisch, Director of Project Management

Labor Unions

  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 639, Jim Woodward, Business Representative
  • International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 26, J. Walter Cahill, International Vice President; Robb Ward, Business Representative
  • Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters, Bill Halbert, Chief Executive Officer;Dennis Meyers, District Manager;Allen Lewis, Business Representative Local 491
  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Ken Viscovich, Trade Show Director

Facilities

  • Washington Convention Center Authority, Thomas M. Mobley, Jr., General Manager and Chief Executive Officer; Steve Schwartz, Acting Director of Operations

Reach Tom Mobley, General Manager and CEO, Washington Convention Center Authority (WCCA), at (202) 249-3012 or tmobley@dcconvention.com.