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Union: Vikings' Social-Justice Message Doesn't Score Off the Field

The Minnesota Vikings have been outspoken over racial inequities this year. However, a development project tied to team ownership has come under scrutiny over hiring subcontractors with histories that don't mirror the social justice message the team is promoting. (Adobe Stock)
The Minnesota Vikings have been outspoken over racial inequities this year. However, a development project tied to team ownership has come under scrutiny over hiring subcontractors with histories that don't mirror the social justice message the team is promoting. (Adobe Stock)
September 14, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- Over the weekend, the Minnesota Vikings kicked off their season with a show of support for George Floyd's family, promoting social justice.

But a regional union said the team's efforts don't match up with its hiring of subcontractors.

Sunday's game featured plenty of messaging calling for systemic change, and the Vikings hosted the Floyd family.

Burt Johnson, general counsel for the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, said the union wants to see the team's owners live up to those same ideals when bringing in various firms for a development project near the Viking practice facility.

"If they cared about social justice, they wouldn't be utilizing and profiting from employers that treat their workers like this," Johnson said.

He's referring to the hiring of two construction subcontractors for the project.

One was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016 over racial harassment of two Black employees. The other company has been the subject of a wage-theft investigation and other issues.

The team did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

Johnson said it's not about any of the union members losing out on the chance to work on the Vikings' project.

He said they don't want to see companies with this type of history being hired.

"It's about an industry that, at times, can forget that it takes human beings with skills to build the buildings that we rent, that we shop in, that we go to see football games in," Johnson said.

Social activism and the world of pro sports have become more intertwined amid the country's racial reckoning this year.

Following the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, several NBA teams, and players in other sports, briefly boycotted game activity.

Some players said sacrificing corporate profits might get the attention of policymakers and industry leaders about longstanding racial gaps and injustice toward Black people.

Disclosure: North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters contributes to our fund for reporting on Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN