Team San Jose, the group that oversees operations at the McEnery Convention Center, has adopted a new labor policy, revamping controversial rules introduced last August, which generated strong opposition from contractors.

The new plan, called an interim solution, deals with both how workers are hired and which union has jurisdiction in the building.

First, the new policy allows exhibition contractors to work directly with local labor—that is, hiring and supervising the workers they need for their shows. That revokes a policy adopted last August that brought labor in-house, forcing contractors to hire labor through Team San Jose. Contractors still have the option to hire labor through Team San Jose, but it is not a requirement.

The other change in San Jose’s labor policy is actually a clarification. Prior to last August, two Teamsters groups worked in the convention center, Local 287 from San Jose and Local 85 from San Francisco. The labor policy introduced in August said that Local 287 would provide all in-house labor at the center. This confused and concerned some contractors who already had collective bargaining agreements with Local 85. Would they be breaking the terms of their CBA if they were required to use Local 287? The answer wasn’t clear.

Now, the Teamsters Joint Council 7, which oversees Teamsters affairs in the region, has ruled that Local 287 has sole jurisdiction over the McEnery Convention Center and that Local 85 is not sanctioned to picket. Previously, there was no official ruling on the jurisdiction.

Dan Fenton, chief executive officer of Team San Jose, said the ruling was a major development that helped pave the way for the revised policy. This is similar to how it is in any major city, added Fenton. “You don’t go to Chicago and use the Milwaukee Teamsters.”

"This interim solution is a good step forward for San Jose and the decorating community to continue discussions that will support both decorators and San Jose clients," said Fenton, in a press release. "Our mutual goals include increasing customer service, adding local jobs, and supporting flexibility." Flexible work rules—such as flexible start times and reduced minimum labor costs—was one of the key issues for Team San Jose when it adopted its new policy last August, explained Fenton.

“This announcement is a huge leap in the right direction," said Steven Hacker, president, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Dallas. "This demonstrates San Jose’s understanding of the benefits of a nonexclusive environment and long-term commitment to the industry as a whole." The Exhibitor Services and Contractors Association, Carrollton, Texas, also approved of the plan.

This interim solution takes effect immediately. Going forward, Team San Jose will meet with contractors and other stakeholders to finalize the labor policy. "ESCA and its members look forward to working with Team San Jose to develop a long-term solution that embraces an open and competitive marketplace, while supporting the objectives of Team San Jose," said Larry Arnaudet, ESCA's executive director, in a press release.

Added Fenton: “We want to make sure we’re responsive to what the meeting planners really need and not creating cookie-cutter agreements that don’t necessarily meet the needs of the meeting planners. That’s what our goals are and I know we will accomplish those goals together [with the contractors].”