Ayuko Kimura-Fay is keeping a close eye on Philadelphia. As the director of meetings for the Washington, D.C. — based American Society of Hematology, she has high hopes that the union situation will see some improvements before her 18,000-plus attendees arrive at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in early December.

But she's doing more than hoping. When she set her meeting budget last January, she increased her labor cost estimate 30 to 40 percent over other years. “However, when I went on a site visit about three weeks ago, I was told that I might have to take a look at my [labor] budget and increase it,” she said, noting that a budget about 50 percent higher than comparable cities might have been a better estimate.

During the site visit, Kimura-Fay made a point to meet with the labor “site representative,” a relationship she's never cultivated in other cities, and she may go back early this fall to follow up. “I just want to have a very positive relationship.”