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SelectBuild workers sue for unpaid wages

BY Brae Canlen

Agroup of former employees of BMHC’s SelectBuild division have filed suit in U.S. District Court of Los Angeles, claiming that they were denied wages for overtime work, time spent waiting for supplies, travel time between job sites and other instances of “off the clock” work hours. Fourteen plaintiffs have been named so far in the case, which is seeking class action status.

BMHC said the lawsuit is “part of an ongoing union campaign to force the company to recognize it as the bargaining agent for employees.”

The complaint, filed on Sept. 22 by the Pasadena, Calif., law firm of Rothner, Segall & Greenstone, involves former BMHC employees in three states: California, Nevada and Arizona. All of them worked for SelectBuild, which performed framing, concrete, plumbing and other construction services for the San Francisco-based company. (SelectBuild is no longer a separate division at BMHC.) The allegations date back to 2004 when, according to the lawsuit, SelectBuild supervisors and managers demanded that employees sign time sheets that did not accurately reflect the hours they worked.

“Defendants’ unlawful conduct has been widespread, repeated and consistent,” the complaint states. “[BMHC] knew, or should have known, that their supervisory and management personnel permit or require [employees] to perform work…without compensation.”

The allegations are violations of state and federal labor laws. In some instances, plaintiffs worked for companies that were later acquired by SelectBuild/BMHC. These companies are also named as defendants.

In a prepared statement, BMHC said it complies fully with state and federal wage practices. “We value our employees and the work they do for our customers,” the company said. It described the lawsuit as being “without merit,” adding, “We intend to defend against it vigorously.”

The complaint asks for unpaid wages, including overtime pay, plus unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees. A jury trial has been requested.

The lawsuit was set to coincide with the release of a report entitled, “The Newest Victims of the Housing Crisis: The Unpaid Workers Who Built America’s Homes.” Written by the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), the report outlines some of the same allegations as the lawsuit, only in greater detail. Some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are featured in the report, where they describe the hours they worked and how they were allegedly short changed in their weekly paychecks.

LIUNA held press conference s in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas on Sept. 23, the day after the SelectBuild/BMHC lawsuit was filed, to publicize the report. Dawn Page, a LIUNA spokes woman, told Home Channel News that the union “is not directing or controlling” the lawsuit, but that many of the alleged wage violations came to light through union organizing efforts. LIUNA is also helping workers find legal counsel, she said, adding that several of the Latino workers needed English translators.

While “The Newest Victims of the Housing Crisis” focuses primarily on SelectBuild, the report also takes large U.S. home builders to task for demanding repeated price reductions from suppliers and subcontractors. “Often, after an initial round [of bids] , they return to bidders to demand further price concessions until it becomes nearly impossible for subcontractors to complete work without cutting wages, benefits, safety and other core labor related are as,” the report says. “[Home builders] must not turn a blind eye to these illegal practices.”

The Sept. 23 press conferences were not the first time BMHC has been targeted by LIUNA. On May 6, LIUNA protested outside the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Houston, as well as in front of SelectBuild offices in Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

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Arthur Blank named chairman of Golf & Tennis Pro Shop

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank has been named chairman of the board for Golf & Tennis Pro Shop, owner and operator of PGA Tour Superstores. The move also marked Blank’s debut on the company’s board of directors.

Blank replaces Golf & Tennis Pro Shop founder Bill Hamlin, who is retiring, according to a statement from the company.

Blank is described as having been a “significant investor” in the company since 2006. He also serves as CEO of the Atlanta Falcons.

“I am honored to be leading the board of this exciting retail concept,” Blank said in a statement. “PGA Tour Superstore has real potential to further solidify its leadership position in the golf and tennis retail segments, by continuing to enhance its business model and through future store growth. I, along with our other board members, look forward to guiding the company in both these areas.”

The company was founded in 2004 and has since grown to 10 superstores nationwide.

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Vermilion Hardware to close after almost 150 years

BY HBSDEALER Staff

After nearly 150 years — 62 in the same family — Vermilion Hardware in Vermilion, Ohio, will be closing its doors before the end of the year, according to the Chronicle-Telegram newspaper.

The store, purchased by Henry and Edna Bailey in 1946, is now being run by their granddaughter, president Denise Fahrney, 34, as well as Fahrney’s father and sister. It is the oldest business in Vermilion.

Andy Grote, one of 10 store employees, said the store will probably close by mid-November.

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