Painters Still Awaiting Payments
by Valerie McNutt


Demonstrations continued outside of the Facilities Management building on Monday, due to non-payment of workers on the San Clemente Student Housing Project.

Representatives for the Painters and Allied Trades Union allege that 13 to 15 people have not been paid by their employer, Ryan’s Painters, a UCSB contractor, for anywhere between 3 to 7 weeks of work. “People are struggling, last Thursday a husband and wife brought their kids out to demonstrate,” said organizer Carlos Torres.

Last Thursday, ProWest Constructors, the company that oversees all of the contractors, took wage claims from all of the affected workers, but the money could still be slow in coming.

“Because of employee reductions at the state level it could be months before these workers see any action on their claims or any money,” said Jim Irwin, a union representative.

Ryan’s Painters has allegedly threatened some of the workers.

Luis Robles, a demonstrator, relayed an exchange between one of the workers and a Ryan’s Painting foreman. “He [the foreman] told the guy [the painter] ‘I know your address, I’ll give you the money but I’ll bring immigration.” Many of the workers are illegal immigrants who are just picked up and they don’t know their rights.”

The union is also claiming that Ryan’s Painters falsified documents, claiming that they paid all of the workers a prevailing wage.

The prevailing wage for painters is between $34 and $37 an hour, in order to cover medical plans, pensions and vacations. These workers were promised just $15 an hour and they have not been paid even that, according to Irwin.

There was a partial stoppage of work late last week, but workers were supposed to be back on the job Monday. The aim of the demonstrators is to get UCSB to sign project agreements that ensure all of the workers are paid the prevailing wage.

So far, they have gotten no response from the university. “They have just asked the same contractor to perform better,” Mike Guttierez, another union representative said.

Marc Fisher, the Associate Chancellor for Campus Design and Facilities, did not respond to a request for comment.

Students were joining the demonstration in hopes of putting more pressure on the university and quickly resolving this dispute.

Tomorrow, December 6, Sam’s To Go in IV is holding an all-day fundraiser for the workers. They will receive 15% of the sales.