PORTLAND, Ore. — Volunteers from Painters Local 10 have stepped in to help an elderly couple who were taken advantage of by a rogue nonunion painting contractor. Eight years ago, Janice Cram paid Nelson Painting $2,200 to paint her house and garage. Less than two years later the paint started flaking and cracking. She called the contractor, Richard Nelson (who had changed the name of the company to B. Nelson Painting), and he agreed to fix it for an additional $1,500. Cram paid Nelson upfront, but he never returned.
Now 80, Cram has been chasing Nelson ever since, even while dealing with her husbands’ bladder cancer. She has won several court judgments, but Nelson has never appeared in court; nor has he paid a dime to the Crams. In fact, Nelson’s wife filed a harassment complaint against Cram, who was constantly calling to get her money. Despite winning in court, Cram said Multnomah County Circuit Court tells her it doesn’t issue contempt of court notices, and that she’s on her own to collect the judgments. Nelson also has been fined several thousand dollars by the Construction Contractors Board for various infractions.
Painters Local 10 union rep Scott Oldham says Janice Cram walked into the union hall one day seeking information about B. Nelson Painting.
“My father was a union man. I thought all construction workers were union,” Cram said.
Cram’s late father, Issac ‘Ike’ Williams, was a longtime member of the Boilermakers Union at the Portland shipyards.
Since then, apprentices and journeymen from Painters Local 10 have been spending weekends prepping and painting the house. Apprentices are learning to “brush paint” as part of their training, and journeymen are helping with lead paint removal.