The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades has launched a national boycott against PPG products.
At issue is a new program from the paint and coatings company called PPG Services. The platform, which launched last September, is an online project management tool that connects commercial facilities with professional painters.
The union calls it “an Uber-like service” that will make it impossible for painting companies to pay their workers fair wages, adequate health and retirement benefits, or fund traditional apprenticeship programs that provide both skills and safety training.”
Confirming this, PPG refused IUPAT’s request that it require contractors to pay area standards. Inevitably, this will lead to a race to the bottom for workers, even as PPG rakes in billions.
“The IUPAT has pioneered innovative training programs that provide skilled workers who provide great value for our end users,” said Ken Rigmaiden, IUPAT General President. “We’ve all seen the disastrous consequences the gig economy has had in other industries. Uber drivers were promised livable wages and a flexible job, but many now complain they cannot earn a living wage. We can’t let the commercial paint industry suffer the same fate.”
Like the Uber model, PPG Services could potentially prioritize on-demand service for consumers while driving down wages, threatening quality, and perpetuating worker exploitation and poverty.
A Federal Reserve study found that 58 percent of workers who had either entered or transferred into gig work are “financially fragile,” and a Slate investigation found that despite Uber’s claims that drivers in New York City were making an average salary of $90,000 a year, the workers were averaging closer to $25,000 annually.
“What PPG doesn’t seem to understand is that safety and quality matter in the construction field. Treating construction like it’s just an Uber ride shows that PPG should not have its hands on the wheel,” said Rigmaiden. “PPG Services is pushing product without regard for the service that customers will receive, let alone what impact this controversial model may have on communities and workers.”
The IUPAT, with a knowledge base that extends over 100 years in workforce development, is convinced this model will undercut fair wages and, eventually, lead to a decline in both quality and on-the-job safety.
IUPAT is calling for an industry-wide boycott of all PPG products, including PPG Services, Glidden, Liquid Nails, Pittsburgh Paints, and other brands.