convention hopes hit snag
A stagehands association leader refuses to sign a pledge not
to strike if the Democrats come to town.
By George Merritt, Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention
hit a serious snag Monday after a union leader refused to
sign a no-strike pledge, with a decision due anytime.
City and union officials confirmed Monday that Jim Taylor,
head of the local stagehands union, is refusing to sign a
mandatory agreement with national Democrats pledging not to
strike if the convention comes to Denver.
Debbie Willhite, executive director of the host committee,
said not having full union support is "probably a deal
breaker" for the DNC.
But Denver's director of theaters and arenas, Jack Finlaw,
said he was "optimistic" that Taylor and the stagehands
would sign on.
"There is still time," Finlaw said.
The decision could come as soon as today, but Democrats said
they would finalize their 2008 convention by the end of the
Taylor, president of the Local No. 7 International Alliance
of Theatrical Stage Employees, balked at signing because
labor views the Pepsi Center as anti-union, said labor
leader Leslie Moody.
"I think that has been the case all along," said Moody,
president of the Denver Area Labor Federation. "There are
several unions that really aren't interested in signing on."
Union issues were a concern early on for the city when the
Denver Area Labor Federation passed a resolution opposing
the bid. But in August, the group shelved that resolution.
Taylor is upset that the convention would be held in a venue
that is not unionized, Moody said.
Denver's host committee believed it had locked up union
support when the resolution was dropped.
"They made a decision that they would have all the unions
sign," Willhite said.
But Moody said that was not the case, and she questioned the
city's commitment to labor.
"These folks have been calling me once a day at best," she
said. "We are not the No. 1 concern. If we were the
priority, they would have had somebody camped out at my
But Moody said union issues are not the only problem with
Denver's bid. She pointed to financial and logistical
issues, suggesting the metro area did not have enough hotel
"If somebody is saying labor is holding this up, then why
were we brought in in the eleventh hour?" said Moody, who
said she didn't get the agreement until a week ago.
The agreement not to strike is standard practice when a city
bids for the party convention. In large part, it is a
pledge not to participate in a work stoppage while the
Democrats are in town.
At the Pepsi Center -- the facility Democrats would use --
stagehands are not unionized. So a stagehands strike would
probably not affect the convention.
But Taylor's refusal to sign the nonstrike agreement would
cripple Denver's bid for the convention.
"It's probably a deal breaker to our getting the
convention," Willhite said.
Taylor could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Staff writer George
Merritt can be reached at 303-954-1657 or