Workers claim wage theft by contractors hired at Viking Lakes project

Around 40 workers for subcontractors who did work at the Viking Lakes development, owned by the family that owns the Minnesota Vikings, say they were the victims of wage theft.

The workers claim they weren’t paid at rates that the subcontractors said they would pay or weren’t paid for all hours they worked.

Workers came forward from Absolute Drywall and Property Maintenance and Construction, or PMC. MV Ventures, which is owned by the Wilf family who also own the Vikings, hired the two companies to help with construction of the 200-acre Viking Lakes residential project. Construction began in 2020 and has since been completed.

Organizers estimate the wage theft at more than $100,000.

“Accountability for these actions must go far deeper than the labor brokers and it must go to the developers who are profiting off of the misery of so many construction workers,” said Veronica Mendez Moore, the co-director of a workers’ center in Minneapolis called Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha, or CTUL.

In a statement, the Wilfs said contractors were obligated to follow fair labor practices.

“All of the selected subcontractors were legally entitled to bid and perform work in Minnesota,” the statement said. “They also signed agreements ensuring fair labor practices for workers at the site and requiring strict compliance with all federal and state labor, benefit, workers’ compensation and wage laws.”

The Wilfs also said they have not seen formally filed complaints and have not heard from the Minnesota Department of Labor.

“Should an investigation be initiated, we will fully support and cooperate, and if these claims are legitimate, the subcontractors in question, neither of which have been selected to work on the future residential project, will have breached their contracts with MV Ventures and should be held accountable,” their emailed statement said.

Burt Johnson is the general counsel for the North Central Regional Council of Carpenters, or NCSRCC, which is supporting the workers, who are not part of their union.

“MV Ventures develops the project, hires the subcontractors and has control of the project from start to finish,” he said. “They are responsible. It’s incumbent on them to ensure that the workers that show up on their project are informed about their rights, aren’t working in exploitative conditions and if problems are brought to light, it’s incumbent on them to do everything they can do to address them.”

Shortly after the press conference, two Senate DFLers sent out a press release throwing support behind the workers.

Around 25 workers said they have brought claims against the subcontractors to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. The department said it cannot confirm or deny the existence of investigations.

The state labor department says Absolute Drywall has been investigated before for misclassifying workers and providing false information to the department.

The NCSRCC says because the workers, who are mostly immigrants and are not in a union, would be put at risk if they spoke out during the project, they waited until after the project was complete to come forward.

They said they warned MV Ventures several times during the project that wage theft was likely happening, but said they saw no action from the developer.

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