Realty Check

YouTube Video: Pulte Soaks Workers As Tempers Flare

I’ve seen it on the blog, so it’s no surprise to me that trouble in the housing market has some folks hot under the collar and others hosing them down. CEO’s of the major homebuilders gave me the cold shoulder at a J.P. Morgan conference last week, including Richard Dugas, CEO of Pulte Homes  (see June 12 blog).

Dugas simply declined to be interviewed, but some of the others, like the CEO’s of Ryland, Standard Pacific and D.R. Horton  blamed me outright for making them look foolish and making the housing market look all but unsalvageable. Thank goodness Dugas didn’t happen to bring a water truck to the conference or I might have been doused. Pulte reported a net loss of $85.7 million in the first quarter of this year, revenue down 37%. On May 29th, Pulte announced it is cutting 16% of its workforce, that’s 1900 jobs.

According to these construction workers, Pulte water trucks “assaulted” demonstrators 16 times in one day in Florence, Arizona (Arizona is bearing the brunt of the downturn in new home sales). A release from the workers claims: “Workers in Arizona and Nevada have tried to bring to light the worker exploitation occurring on Pulte Homes’ residential construction sites through different actions, including picketing specific contractors hired by Pulte. Workers report that they are owed unpaid wages, suffer sexual harassment, have no access to appropriate safety equipment, and are not provided with adequate construction materials or cool drinking water.”

Well I don’t know if the water was cool or clean, but they got it. You’ll remember a few months ago we reported on Lennar Homes in California, asking contractors to lower their prices of work already performed or be excluded from future bidding. Tough times in home building for sure. We’ve been calling Pulte for a comment, but so far, no dice.

Update (4:25 PM ET): Pulte responded to our calls within an hour and told my producer the following: This is part of an ongoing harassment campaign by the AFL-CIO against Pulte due to issues with subcontractors. Pulte says take it to the subs, not them. They say Pulte trucks water the roads at the sites, but in the video they say it's a subcontractor's truck that hit the workers. They claim that the piece on YouTube is heavily edited, and several pieces of video are spliced together to make it look worse than it is. The company spokesperson says the incident "is unfortunate, not the way that business is conducted at our work sites." The company is taking "issues like this seriously." The union has refused to provide Pulte with the video.

Questions?  Comments?