Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Thursday, March 26, 2009 | 5:43 p.m.
A long-running feud between unions and one of the nation’s largest home builders spilled into the meeting of the Nevada State Contractors Board in Henderson this morning.
About 60 construction tradesmen packed the board’s chambers to draw attention to what they say are poor working conditions and quality problems at the job sites of Pulte Homes and its Del Webb subsidiary.
Workers reported unsafe practices, harassment and discrimination, said Matt O’Malley, lead researcher of a survey by the Building Justice campaign. Those conditions led to poor construction quality and homeowners’ complaints of imperfections, he said.
The campaign is a partnership of the AFL-CIO, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association.
The organizations want union contractors on Pulte’s work sites in Nevada and Arizona, O’Malley said.
The union campaign also released findings of a survey it conducted last year of 872 Pulte and Del Webb homeowners in Nevada, Arizona and California. About half live in Southern Nevada. The results were published today in a report called, “Poorly Built by Pulte, No Different at Del Webb.”
It reports that 63 percent of homeowners reported construction defects and 44 percent were dissatisfied with the company’s response.
Jacque Petroulakis, a spokeswoman for Pulte, said the unions have been passing around similar reports in Arizona and California for more than a year, trying to force the company to use union contractors.
The company built 15,000 homes in Las Vegas in the past five years and uses union and nonunion contractors, Petroulakis said.
“Building Justice has cherry picked a very small and vocal faction of this group and has tried to claim that their survey represents all Pulte and Del Webb homeowners,” she said. “This is all part of a publicity stunt. We don’t believe the results are anywhere near being close to accurate.”
O’Malley spoke during an opening forum portion of the meeting so the board members did not have to respond and none of them did. The workers chose the venue because Nathaniel Hodgson, Pulte’s vice president of construction, is a board member.
Petroulakis said the company stands by its favorable customer satisfactions surveys conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, which in 2008 ranked Pulte among the top three home builders based on surveys of new-home buyers in 11 of 33 markets. In Las Vegas, Del Webb placed third and Pulte ranked fourth.
“We’ve earned an industry-leading reputation for delivering quality homes,” Petroulakis said.
O’Malley said his organization has tried unsuccessfully for years to open discussions with Pulte about working conditions. “The ultimate goal is we want to have a cooperative relationship with Pulte,” he said.