01-22-2007, 12:32 PM
There is tension in the air between Democrats and organized labor in Denver. The city will be the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention and the party plans to host the convention at the non-union Pepsi Center [emph. added]. Another major issue for organized labor is that the convention center is also owned by Stan Kroenke - husband of Wal-Mart heir Ann Walton. While the Colorado AFL-CIO has expressed support for the Democrats using the non-union space and the Pepsi Center has expressed it would allow current workers managed by Rhino Staging be replaced with union workers. When the McNichols Center was replaced by the Pepsi Center in 1999, it cost nearly 300 union members their jobs. The major opposition comes from Jim Taylor, President of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees local 7. While Taylor has yet to make any public positions - reportedly not returning calls from U.S. Senator Ken Salazar and Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth - he has so far not signed a pledge not to strike during the convention. When it was first learned that Denver was in consideration, Taylor has expressed he saw it as an opportunity to put leverage on the facility to organize its current workers. Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean is optimistic that an agreement will be reached.