Union Bank is poised to celebrate the one-year mark at the helm of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, which it acquired through a merger process that led to nearly 250 local layoffs this year.
Those employees were handed layoff notices earlier this year, with 175 of them in Goleta and 72 in Santa Barbara, according to public notices Union Bank filed with the state.
Union Bank, the primary subsidiary of San Francisco-based UnionBanCal Corp., officially acquired Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s parent company Pacific Capital Bancorp late last year in a $1.5 billion deal that had to be approved by federal regulators.
With the acquisition, Union Bank gained 45 branches — significantly expanding its geographic footprint to important areas of the Central Coast.
Consolidation inevitably accompanied the transition, and Union Bank spokesman Dan Weidman this week confirmed the 247 local layoffs as a means to eliminate duplicate positions within the companies.
Union Bank previously said 470 total positions at Santa Barbara Bank & Trust would be eliminated beginning last December, although no regional or branch specifics were offered.
The Union Bank brand name now graces the ins and outs of all branches, except for a special tribute to Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s former headquarters at 20 E. Carrillo St., which boasts a combined emblem to pay respect to the former flagship, said George Leis, a former Santa Barbara Bank & Trust executive who now heads up Union Bank’s Central Coast division.
All bank statements and online accounts have been switched over, Leis said, and customers can now make deposits directly from their mobile phones.
Leis said all parts of the transition have gone smoothly, including efforts to help displaced employees find employment via a job fair or by relocating them to other Union Bank branches.
Union Bank’s financial resources have also helped the company contribute more to community events and charitable efforts, Leis said.
“A year into the process, Union Bank delivered,” he said. “Everything is going really well from an employee and customer perspective. The thing that I said from the beginning is that Union Bank’s culture, its desire for community involvement, was very much in line with the old Santa Barbara Bank & Trust philosophy.”
The total number of local layoffs could be more than 247, according to staff at the Workforce Investment Board of Santa Barbara County, which applied for and was awarded a state grant specifically to aid impacted employees.
Jessica McLernon, who is managing the special project at WIB, said staff have been working with affected employees since early September and have created a talent transition survey for optimal job placement, which should be wrapped up by the end of the week.
“In a community like Santa Barbara — even 200 to 300 people — it makes a big impact on the community,” McLernon said. “We hope to reach as many people as possible.”
Leis said no further local layoffs were expected at this time.
He complimented the tireless work of branch employees, who have helped improve the company’s performance in terms of customer retention and deposit growth.
“As a result of these relationships, we made it through the transition in pretty good shape,” Leis said.