Conservative Groups Sue to Stop Labor-Backed Consumer Initiative in Arizona
by PaulVA [Subscribe] Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 09:03:18 AM EST
In December 2007, the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association(SMWIA) filed paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State to form the Arizona Homeowners’ Bill of Rights Committee. The goal was clear, to provide homeowners with improved rights to deal with construction defects and shady home sales practices that have been plaguing consumers across the country and in particular in the hot Arizona homebuilding market.
Last month, the committee presented petitions with more than 260,000 signatures to the state to allow Arizona voters to determine the outcome of this issue in the fall.
Tuesday, a small group of poweful GOP-backed homebuilders filed a lawsuit looking to stop homeowners from having any say about the construction defects in their homes.
Current Arizona law, passed in 2002 by a GOP dominated legislature, radically changed the rights of buyers in favor of builders and does not give buyers any reasonable degree of protection against deceptive sales practices and construction defects. The state GOP, back by the homebuilding industry. pressured the Arizona Legislature to pass this law as they have done in other states such as Texas and Florida. They claimed to be seeking relief from class-action suits filed against them.
What they got instead was a carte-blanche invitiation to run rampant over the Arizona residents who purchased their defective homes.
The Sheet Metal Workers joined forced with several consumer and community groups in an effort to help homebuyers with their construction defects, even including free inspections of their homes from a qualified union member. What was found was shocking and detailed in the website Poorly Built By Pulte Homes, the largest homebuilder in Arizona and in the nation.
It took over six months to complete the listed items on the walk-through, as well as the items that were discovered after we moved in. There were way too many problems with way too many service calls, which left me at their beck and call for over six months.
This has been a horrible experience. Between all the problems, the non-responsive customer service, the poor "fixes", we are very saddened that our "dream home" has become a nightmare. It is unfortunate that so many problems have occurred, but even more disappointing that we are left to deal with them, no recourse at all. We had thought about getting a lawyer, but just wouldn't know where to start. The water damage to the house was because of negligence and was a problem that we noticed on our walk through.
The new initiative would serve as a big step in solving many of these problems by creating a Bill of Rights for Arizona homeowners, providing a 10-year warranty on new homes. In addition, homeowners would have the right to demand either the builder correct construction defects or compensate the homeowner. Homeowners also could participate in the selection of contractors to perform the repair work.
The initiative provides that homeowners can sue if the builder does not offer sufficient remedies and removes the threat of being liable for the builder’s attorney and expert fees while allowing the homeowner to recover these costs. Homeowners whom builders have subjected to emotional distress or great inconvenience can recover for these areas as well. The initiative also adds new protections in the home-buying process.
The rights of homeowners go hand in hand with the rights of the workers who are on the job building these homes. There are over 30,000 residential construction workers in Arizona. Unfortunately, working conditions and low standards in the residential construction industry are bringing standards down across the board for workers and consumers.
Safety, fair wages, and respect on the job are all missing from jobsites in the residential industry across the country. Last year, a group of workers were caught on video being sprayed down by a water truck as they peacefully demonstrated against the working conditions they faced at work.
To learn more about the SMWIA effort in Arizona, visit the Building Justice website. You can also take a survey and read some of the homeowner complaints at Poorly Build By Pulte.
This referendum is not just radioactive to the conservative groups who passed the carte blanche legislation restricting homeowner rights in Arizona - it is a threat to them everywhere. If this passes in Arizona (where it enjoys 80% support), it will be on the ballot elsewhere, including Texas where Bob Perry, the homebuilder who funded the Swiftboaters group, lobbied for and got legislation just like the one the Arizona homebuilders are using to trample over the state's homebuyers.
Bad builders in Arizona sue to stop labor backed legislation which would give consumers a warranty on their shotty product's, what are they afraid of?
Directly from DailyKos (7/24/08):