Santa Barbara Bank & Trust branch at Carrillo and Anacapa Streets
Paul Wellman (file)

Just one day before Union Bank took possession of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust in a $1.5 billion buyout, nearly half the bank’s employees got notices that their jobs would be eliminated. When the dust settles, 468 employees will be laid off and another 570 will still be working.

Most of the cuts will take place in Santa Barbara proper, said Dan Weidman of Union Bank. Of those, 80 percent will be asked to work through to the end of next April, but of the remaining 20 percent, Weidman declined to state when their last day would be or what kind of severance package they would be given.

Tim Wennes, vice chairman of Union Bank (left) and George Leis, President and COO of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust
Paul Wellman

Weidman did say that most of the retained jobs would involve positions where the bank employee interacts directly with customers. Layoffs were expected — and even acknowledged — when it was announced that Union Bank would take over the long-ailing Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, once an iconic institution of the Santa Barbara business community.

Over time, it expanded well beyond the South Coast, as far north as San Jose and as far south as Ventura County. When the recessionary crash came, the bank found itself dangerously overextended. When the buyout was announced, it was understood that some layoffs would occur, but the actual number was never disclosed.

The magnitude of the cuts remains startling. Weidman said the bank would not provide information detailing how much money the bank would save through these layoffs. He did say that laid-off employees would be given an opportunity to apply for 175 openings in Union Bank operations located between Los Angeles and San Jose.


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