June 22, 2006
ByJEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
The Connecticut Convention Center has lost another event because of continuing labor strife between management and unions seeking to organize the center's employees.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities was planning to hold its annual conference at the year-old convention center on Oct. 17, but decided to reschedule it to Oct. 3 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell.
"Our preference, of course, would be to hold the convention at the convention center - the venue is larger and it fits our needs," said Kevin Maloney, a spokesman for the conference. "But there was a real possibility that the dispute could result in picket lines ... and we really felt it was important to avoid a situation where our members could be faced with a picket line."
Maloney said the conference plans to invite the candidates for governor, and pickets could complicate their attendance.
Two labor unions - Unite Here! and Service Employees International Union - called a boycott of the center and the adjacent Marriott hotel last month, saying that they could not come to terms with management on how to best bring an employee vote on unionization. The center's operator, the Waterford Group, has long maintained that it would support a non-coercive, secret-ballot election supervised by the federal government.
That disagreement continues, although another union - Laborers International Union - has entered into an agreement with the convention center that allows it to begin organizing employees. Meanwhile, Mayor Eddie A. Perez's hopes of brokering a deal between Unite Here!, SEIU, and the convention center have, to date, fallen flat.
The conference's annual one-day convention brings 600 municipal officials from across the state together for a day for meetings and a trade show with more than 140 exhibitors, Maloney said. Last year was its first at the convention center.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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