IUPAT and SMWIA Interrupt Mortgage Conference, Broadcast on CNBC

January 23rd, 2011
by admin


Building Justice, a collaboration of IUPAT DC 15, SMWIA and the AFL-CIO, works to raise standards for workers in the residential construction industry.  We are holding PulteGroup, the nation’s largest homebuilder, accountable for poor working conditions on its worksites. We extend a big thanks to our brothers and sisters at District Council 51 and to IUPAT members from around the country that made this action possible.

For the second time this month, PulteMortgage CEO Debra Still came face to face with workers from the Building Justice campaign and their allies, demanding to know how her company is spending the public’s money.

Despite the fact that her company settled with Arizona’s attorney general over allegations of consumer fraud, Still spent Wednesday, Jan. 19 at the JW Marriott in Washington, DC, chairing a meeting on residential mortgaging with professionals from around the country. In the middle of the summit, several hundred community members and workers from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) interrupted.

“Where is the money? Where are our jobs?” they chanted as they marched past stunned bankers to take over the podium.

Debra Still is the CEO of Pulte Mortgage, a subsidiary of homebuilding giant PulteGroup. PulteGroup. The company received $880 million in public money last year.[1] The windfall was due to legislation intended to create jobs that was passed by Congress in November 2009 – part of the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act.

Community members, workers and taxpayers rallied inside the hotel, and announced that they are calling for Congressional hearings to determine whether PulteGroup may have acted against the spirit and intent of the law.

“Wherever Pulte’s executives go, we will follow, until there is accountability for those taxpayer dollars,” said Saundra L. Williams, President, Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO. “We bailed out the auto companies. We bailed out the banks. We bailed out Pulte. It’s time for  Pulte to show us the money that was supposed to create the jobs. There needs to be accountability here.”

Last year, PulteGroup reported spending $8 million on employee severances and related costs.  Then it announced plans to cut hundreds of jobs and close a plant in Tolleson, AZ. PulteGroup has not indicated to its investors that it is spending money on creating jobs. When describing PulteGroup’s priorities for its cash reserves, CFO Roger Cregg has mentioned land, land acquisition, and debt restructuring.

“Pulte has gotten almost a billion dollars to put people back to work,” said Angel Rangel, one of the workers and an organizer for the Sheet Metal Workers International Association. “But we haven’t seen those jobs. Where’s the accountability? Pulte should be held to the same standards as the bankers and the auto industry.”

CNBC, the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal, among others, covered this event.


[1]Transcript of PulteGroup Q1 2010 Earnings Call, provided by Seeking Alpha, attributed to Roger Cregg. We received approximately $778 million in cash refunds during the first quarter related to our NOL carrybacks. Subsequently, in April, we received an additional $103 million in refunds for a total of approximately $880 million related to the NOL carrybacks.”

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