Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Steamboat Springs 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