After five months of negotiations, 10 of the workers responsible for painting the UCSB San Clemente Student Housing Project will finally receive their pay.
The dispute was settled after the workers gained representation from International Union of Painters and Allied Trades for District Council 36 Organizing Director Mike Gutierrez who then reached an agreement with their former employer, Ryan’s Painting, late last month.
According to Gutierrez, the out of court settlement stipulates that the painters will receive all their back pay over the next three months. As a result, Ryan’s Painting now owes the 10 employees a total of $87,840.69, although two employees have already received payment.
Prior to the settlement, Gutierrez said the university issued a no-interest $2,000 “bridge loan” to each of the employees last month, in order to cover living expenses for the painters. The painters will repay the university for the loan after they receive their back pay.
In previous interviews, university officials have stated that the sole party responsible for paying the workers is Ryan’s Painting. The university hired ProWest Constructors to manage the San Clemente Project. ProWest was then responsible for hiring companies such as Ryan’s Painting. Gutierrez said the aid from the university was appreciated.
“The loan relieved a lot of pressure on the workers,” Gutierrez said. “I believe UCSB went above and beyond what they needed to do to make it right.”
In late November, the group of workers hired by San Diego company Ryan’s Painting first alleged they did not receive wages for as many as seven weeks of work spent painting housing blocks B and C of the 327-unit project.
The new housing site, which is scheduled to open for the 2008-09 school year, will accommodate 964 graduate and transfer students and is located along El Colegio Road. The dispute prompted the UCSB Graduate Students Association and the University of California Students Association to pass resolutions in February boycotting the complex. Additionally, the Associated Students Legislative Council passed a resolution in support of the workers.
Donna Carpenter, the executive vice chancellor of Administrative Services, said she and other administrators are currently working on a new protocol to mediate business relations between contractors and their employees.
“[The proposal] would entail someone being on site, the workers having access to notices about their rights and a sample interview of workers to make sure they are being paid properly,” Carpenter said.
Ryan’s Painting has repeatedly ignored phone calls from Daily Nexus reporters seeking comment.
In a previous interview, Gutierrez said the union was on the verge of reaching a settlement in December, but negotiations were postponed after three workers decided to seek independent legal representation. Gutierrez also said that negotiations between the union and Ryan’s Painting continued until early March, after Ryan’s allegedly failed to deliver an agreed upon monetary settlement.