Pennsylvania Convention Center and Trade Show Labor Partners launch program focused on “Safety, Skills, and Smiles” Training for Hospitality Workforce


The Pennsylvania Convention Center and its trade show labor partners are building upon their already strong working relationship with the launch of a joint initiative – believed to be the only one of its kind in the country – dedicated to expanding and building upon existing training programs in the areas of safety, development of technical skills, and customer-service and hospitality.

The new Hospitality Industry Advancement Trust (HIAT) Fund represents a partnership between the management of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the organizations responsible for providing show floor labor to the facility’s customers. The HIAT Fund will support enhanced training opportunities focused in three general categories: “Safety, Skills, and Smiles:”

  • Safety programs will provide participants with opportunities to obtain general and specialized Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety certifications.
  • Skills training will be coordinated with contractors in the convention and meeting industry, such as Installation & Dismantle (I&D) and Decorator companies to provide the workforce with the latest technical training so that the workforce can offer the most efficient and economical builds possible.
  • Hospitality 1.0 and 2.0 programs will focus on providing customers and guests with memory-making experiences that consistently exceed expectations through prioritizing customers, positive attitude and engagement, and a commitment to success.

“The signatory labor unions of the Pennsylvania Convention Center are proud to be participating in the new Hospitality Industry Advancement Trust,” said Michael J. Barnes, 1st International Vice President of the International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees and Chair of the HIAT Fund Board. “This innovative, joint initiative between Convention Center labor and management will improve workplace safety, provide additional skills training to enable the Center to offer customers the most economical build-outs possible, and provide all guests with so many wonderful memories that they’ll want to return, again and again. The signatory unions of the Convention Center thank CEO John McNichol for his spirit of partnership and forward-thinking leadership.”

“We are fortunate to have a team of labor partners that appreciate and understand the importance of delivering the best possible experience to our trade show, event, convention, and meeting customers,” said John McNichol, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority. “They are making a long-term commitment to ensuring the labor personnel who work in our facility not only have the latest safety and skills training, but also a high-level of hospitality-focused training. The partnership and cooperative relationship between management and our show floor labor workforce is remarkable and it’s having a real, substantive impact on the customer-experience.  In fact, customer satisfaction survey scores at the PA Convention Center demonstrate the results with an 87.2% overall rating and an outstanding score of 95.5% for utility services.”

“This program is another illustration of management and labor at the Center working together to deliver meeting planners, exhibitors, and attendees the best possible experience and value,” said Martin J. Sobol, Esquire, a member of the PCCA’s Board of Directors and chair of the board’s Customer Satisfaction Committee.  “We are a united team that understands that strong customer service improves our competitiveness, puts us in a position to make every customer a repeat customer, and ensures Philadelphia will remain one of the country’s most desirable convention destinations for many years to come.”

The Pennsylvania Convention Center and its trade show labor partners have established a method of ensuring the trust receives consistent funding – approximately $250,000 to $400,000 per year – to meet the ongoing and evolving training needs of its workforce. The trade show labor unions will make a donation to the fund for every hour worked with a union member, an amount that will then be matched by the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s management. The PCC’s four trade show labor partners include: Laborers’ International Local 332, IATSE Local 8 (Stagehands), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98, and Iron Workers Local 405.

The ongoing cooperative working relationship between management and labor was further solidified last year with the extension of the facility’s labor agreement, known as the Customer Satisfaction Agreement (CSA), for an additional 5-years until 2034. That additional 5-year commitment provides customers with an added level of predictability and stability for their long-term event planning.