MN Adds Extra Wage Theft Protection for Construction Workers
Monday, June 5, 2023
As the summer construction season ramps up, the industry is preparing for new requirements under a pending Minnesota law change.
In recent years, Minnesota has cracked down on wage theft. But labor leaders within construction say they were still seeing too many workers being taken advantage of.
They pushed for a bill in the recent legislative session to hold owners and managers of construction sites liable, and not just a subcontractor suspected of wage theft.
Adam Duininck, director of government affairs for the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, said the provision was included in a final budget bill.
"The best part about this law, if it works really well," said Duininck, "what will happen is general (contractors) and developers won't hire those bad subcontractors to begin with - because then the general and the developer will understand that they're responsible for that."
The bill does carve out exemptions for certain single-family housing development projects, as well as contractors with collective bargaining agreements.
Some associations within the industry criticized the plan, saying it plays favorites in regard to those exemptions.
But Duininck contended that job sites with unionized contractors often don't have problems with wage theft.
The changes are scheduled to take effect August 1. In the meantime, Duininck said he hopes there's not only awareness among project leaders - but that word spreads among workers as well.
"I think that workers will hopefully feel more empowered to speak up when they are experiencing wage and hour issues," said Duininck. "A lot of the workers that we talk with on this matter come to us as immigrant workers, as workers that don't feel like they have a lot of rights to begin with."
The changes follow Minnesota's wage-theft law that was adopted in 2019.
According to the union, Minnesota joins Illinois as the only other Midwestern state to weave in specific liability language for general contractors and developers.
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