In a move to support what is best for the venue management industry, IAVM through the generous funding of the IAVM Foundation has filed an amicus brief on behalf of a member venue’s litigation involving anti-trust and government immunity that regardless of the court’s final decision will have industry-wide implications.
IAVM made its decision to support the San Diego Convention Center Corporation and by extension any venue’s right to manage its building by filing the brief backing the venue in litigation between United National Maintenance , Inc., and the SDCCC.
At issue in the litigation is UNM’s desire to utilize its own contracted help for cleaning services at the venue, while the SDCCC counters that while any of its customers may hire a firm of their choosing, due to branding, security and revenue concerns those customers are required to use only the venue’s trained labor force to do event cleaning at the building.
“We appreciate the support of IAVM and the IAVM Foundation,” said Carol Wallace, president and chief executive officer of the SDCCC. “This is something that affects all facilities and we are pleased that the association is standing firm with us.”
Vicki Hawarden, CMP, president and CEO of IAVM, said that Wallace approached her about looking at the issue and garnering the association’s support and backing. Hawarden said that after the Industry Affairs Council and several convention center members offered their perspective it was obvious that this was something that needed to be supported by IAVM because of the potential industry-wide implications.
“They (IAVM Foundation) really stepped up and said it was something they absolutely wanted to fund on behalf of our members.”
“Since this is an anti-trust issue with a huge court record it is not something that can be done relatively quickly,” Hawarden said. “It was something that financially was going to need some support, so at that point we went to the Foundation Board of Trustees to share with them that this was one of the unexpected issues that are of critical importance to the industry but not typically part of an operation’s annual budget.
“They really stepped up and said it was something they absolutely wanted to fund on behalf of our members. It’s particularly important to our convention center members but we see that this could also have an impact if the case were lost for all venues and their ability to manage as they see fit. The Foundation is really the reason that we’re able to move forward and file this brief.”
Wallace emphasized that the primary issues involved for the venue have to do with maintaining the quality of cleaning as well as branding issues where the convention center is known as a top-quality building.
“We don’t want situations where there are security issues when people are often randomly hired and brought in to do cleaning in our building,” she said. “We have had security issues, so we let the client choose any company to supervise but we require them to hire from our staff.”
“This is basically about maintaining the ability to manage the building in the most effective way for not only the customers, such as show organizers, but also the communities the venues serve,” Hawarden added. “They have to balance the two competing demands to take care of the customer and be responsible and good stewards for the community and the stakeholders and whoever their bosses may be.”
The implications of the final verdict will resonate across the industry, something Hawarden acknowledged while citing the importance for IAVM members to contribute to the Foundation as it seeks to endorse major initiatives such as this one.
“It will definitely have implications one way or the other,” she said. “Given that, it was important that our voice was heard in this case.”
(If you are attending VenueConnect, please plan to attend a session on Monday, July 29 entitled “A Candid Debate on Shifts in the Convention Center Industry,” sponsored by the IAVM Foundation and moderated by Hawarden and David DuBois, president of IAEE. As part of IAVM and IAEE’s new partnership, this is the first of a two-part debate centered on the current issues affecting the convention center industry. Part 2 will take place at IAEE’s Expo! Expo! this December in Houston.)