Kyteler’s Irish Pub payment delay stalls workers

Steamboat contractors say lack of payment causes domino effect on lives

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— Workers who say they’re owed payment for months of work at Kyteler’s Irish Pub in Steamboat Springs also say the lack of income is creating impacts in their professional and personal lives, like a row of tipping dominoes.

The situation provides a glimpse into the struggles of people and families dependent on a regional construction industry that has seen jobs and activity plummet during and after the national economic recession.

James Music, of Ultra Mechanical, for example, said a lack of payment for Kyteler’s work has prevented him from paying equipment suppliers for his plumbing and heating business.

“My supplier cut me off as a direct result of it,” Music said. “My business has basically shut down because of it, because I can’t pay my supplier.”

Music is one of at least 15 workers involved with construction of Kyteler’s who are seeking legal help to secure owed money. Overdue payments could total more than $150,000, local lawyer Ralph Cantafio has said.

Several workers said they did receive a paycheck this month, for work in December, but have received nothing for January through March.

Kyteler’s owner Gerry Howard could not be reached late Tuesday and did not return multiple phone calls Monday or last week.

Electrician Dave Freideman cited woes similar to Music’s, saying his local “electrical supply house” has cut off his credit and now requires him to pay cash.

“A lot of those guys are salesmen — they work off of commissions,” Freideman said about construction suppliers. “They aren’t getting any commissions off what I haven’t paid.”

Freideman also worked at Kyteler’s at Wildhorse Marketplace on Mount Werner Road.

Cantafio said legal action could occur under Colorado’s mechanics’ lien law, which provides a pathway for laborers to secure payment for work or services.

Meanwhile, Freideman said Monday, construction wages are decreasing while Routt County’s cost of living appears to be increasing.

“Food is going up, gas is going up, every day — and they ask us to work cheaper,” he said.

Freideman said he knows of many local workers who have no choice to take a job, despite a pay cut, because reduced pay is better than no pay.

“We’re all taking jobs now for lower wages,” he said. “It’s a whole domino effect. … It puts huge pressure on your marriage.”

Carpenter Gary Wall also cited decreased pay across the industry.

“We normally get $45 (or) $50 an hour, and now we’re taking $20,” Wall said. “And that doesn’t even cover our overhead.”

Some say the recession is no reason for debt-laden construction projects.

“I’m sick and tired of hearing developers, etc., using this economy as an excuse to not pay their bills,” Steve Weinland, owner of the trash removal company Aces High Services, said Monday.

He said he’s seen other local projects that have had payment issues for workers.

Freideman said after working on a local restaurant job in December, some of his payment came in the form of coupons to the restaurant.

“Sports Authority doesn’t take coupons for shoes,” Freideman said.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or email mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

beentheredonethat 3 years, 1 month ago

I empathise with the workers and their families for being taken advantage of and hope that lawyers will succeed in getting the money they have earned. is it typical for the construction community to continue working for weeks and months on end without getting paid?

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garywallabr 3 years, 1 month ago

beentheredonethat,

No it isn't typical for construction workers to work on end without getting paid. In all the years that I've been in industry there was only one company that paid every 45 days, but that was understood at the beginning of the job and I agreed to that term.

The representative (no names mentioned) , for Gerard Howard Jr / GCH Contracting, was feeding us one excuse after another and stated that if anyone were to quit, that they would never get their money. We felt as though we were being bullied into staying on the job and showed up everyday in the hopes that we would be paid. Please realize,it was better than sitting at home doing nothing.

Back in January the excuses became more and more frequent and I tried to tell everyone then, if we all walked off the job at that point then GCH would realize that we meant business. Pay us up. Pay us every two weeks as we should be paid. I actually started to load my tools and walk off the job and that did force one payment, but it was a bone that was dangled in our faces. It took until March 12th for others to realize this and that is when the majority of the workers walked off the job and demanded our pays and I for one will not go back even when I do receive what is owed to me.

I want to make it clear to not only you, but to everyone. I did drywall, but not the taping or finish. I was also told to do 95% percent of the HVAC by James Music of Ultra Mechanical and he told me to do parts of the plumbing. I did not do any of the trim work, it was low budget and I did not want my name associated with it. I made the bar tops, drawers,cabinets, and did framing. I showed with the bar top that we had the capacity to do quality high end work and I refused to do it any other way, it had my name behind it and it is something I'm proud of.

I hope this answers your question.

Gary Wall

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John St Pierre 3 years, 1 month ago

Having been in the construction biz for 35+ years... 1st and formost never do any work without a signed agreement that states a payment schedule...if its not met no more work period and file the intent to lien.... but I suspect the game here, and one with a long tradition, is that an offer will be made to all these people in the 60 to 75% range of what the are owned... as it will be cheaper to accept it then go thru legal action and the time it takes.... there are a great many people in the industry who play by this scheme out in the real world ..several national homebuilders especially.....knowing that small companies and individuals will bid low to get the work,,, and then essentially renegotiate their agreement in the end by offering them less money rather then the pain of legal action and delay that individuals and small companies cannot afford.

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Kristopher Hammond 3 years, 1 month ago

When it finally opens its doors, let's all go to Kyteler's and have a few drinks....then walk out. "We'll be in tomorrow for some more drinks, and if the service is good, we'll probably pay you for today's drinks." Repeat.

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greenwash 3 years, 1 month ago

B&K , Sysco , or whomever.......Starting a business with C.O.D deliveries ?

It may never open.

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