PAINT FIRM HEADHUNTS STUDENTS

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By Alexandra Yeboah

A window cleaning company affiliated with a painting company that some students say screwed them over has been spotted on campus in the past week looking for employees.

A student said they were treated to a six- or seven-minute recruiting presentation from a representative of Action Window Cleaners, an affiliate of College Pro Painters.

The students had voted to allow the rep to speak, although their professor was not keen on the idea.

Lawrence Robinson, security manager at Ryerson, said he was not aware of any companies going into classes to solicit students.

“In terms of walking into somebody’s classroom, that doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that would be approved,” he said.

College Pro Painters is a Woodbridge-based painting company that hires “managers” to recruit their own painting crews for odd painting jobs in local neighbourhoods, giving them small budgets for each job.

The manager must find their own clients and budget revenues from the company and the client to pay for supplies, painters, and College Pro.

Managers get to pocket whatever is leftover, which can be very little.

A representative for College Pro said the only prerequisite to being a manager was being a post-secondary student.

“[It’s a] program for students to have their own business…College Pro serves as a tool to guide them along the way,” the rep said.

“I got screwed big time,” said Vadim Vilensky, a business management student at Ryerson who worked for College Pro.

“They promise a lot and under deliver,” he said.

Vilensky said he was promised managerial experience, but ended up going door-to-door looking for clients.

He added he was not given any specific training, and at one point painted from the third floor of a house without a safety harness.

Tom Hamilton, the owner of the Better Brush (a rival painting company) said workers could get underpaid if managers underestimate the time needed to finish the job.

“Employees are paid on an estimate basis and this is the major flaw of the whole thing. It’s dumb, because if [the manager] is bad at estimating, the workers won’t make a [good] profit,” he said.

If a manager estimates a job will take one day, then the budget will only have salary for one day.

But if workers need more than one day to finish the job, they still only get paid for the single day.

That’s what happened to Samantha Ponting, a third-year student at the University of Ottawa.

“If the project was not complete within [the budgeted] hours, the painters were required to work beyond the budgeted time without pay,” she said.

“As a student, I had a disadvantage. I received no minor skills training and was put on the job immediately. I wasn’t paid regularly. Sometimes my pay check would come weeks late,” she said.

Rob Heydari of the Working Students’ Centre isn’t happy College Pro is at Ryerson. “I take issue with classroom time being used for corporate interests. I’m not a big fan of that,” he said.

But Brandon Forsyth, a fourth-year image arts student, also worked at College Pro last summer and didn’t run into any problems.

“I could relate easily to [the] people and I had a good time,” he said. Forsyth added that the experience gained at College Pro depends on who hires you and who your operator is.

“I was a fast painter, (so I was) paid for more work than I actually (did).”

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