Carpenters, Community Groups demand accountability

Carpenters, Community Groups demand accountability

September 10, 2020

For Immediate Release  
September 10, 2020                                                                           

Adam Duininck

Carpenters, Community Groups demand accountability from the Wilf Family for their use of abusive subcontractors on their MV Eagan Ventures development next to MN Vikings practice facility

The North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters (NCSRCC) and the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) are calling for public accountability for the Wilf Family and their development arm, MV Eagan Ventures regarding their use of sub-contractors who have horrendous records of wage theft, child labor, and federal charges of allowing horrific workplace harassment from a supervisor who threatened gun violence against black people and made a noose out of electrical wire.

“Not only have the Carpenters counted ourselves as the strongest allies of building the Vikings stadium in Minneapolis and the practice facility in Eagan, our members have been fans for years. The decision to do business with shady construction employers who mistreat workers like this is something that we must speak out about,” said Adam Duininck, the Director of Government Affairs for the Carpenters Union. “After all the taxpayer funding and public support for their projects, it is unconscionable that the Wilf family through MV Eagan Ventures would associate with companies like JL Schwieters Construction, Inc. and Absolute Drywall, Inc. If the Minnesota Vikings signed a contract with a player or coach who had this type of track record, the players would revolt and the public would be up in arms.”

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that, despite knowing that two black employees had been threatened with race-based violence, “no action was taken to stop or prevent the harassment” by JL Schwieters Construction.

“I worked for months for Absolute Drywall, earning $7 an hour when I was 17 years old and I know how they treat their workers.” said Julian Soriano. “These practices of how people are mistreated in the construction industry need to end. That’s why I am speaking out against the exploitation; to make a safer workplace for my community and other workers.”  The U.S. Department of Labor found Absolute had unlawfully denied employees of over $100,000 in overtime wages and had child labor violations in recent years.

“These companies are profiting from Black people and Black labor. How are you going to say that Black lives matter in front of the press but have no commitment to making change behind closed doors?” said Lexi Collins, member of CTUL. “What we see in the EEOC complaint against Schwieters is despicable,” said Collins. “I know how it feels to stand up to my employer against racism. I was scared at first but now I know my rights and stand up for myself and others. It feels powerful.” 

The Carpenters and CTUL are available for further comment and interviews upon request.

The North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters represents nearly 26,000 Carpenters across Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) believes that we need permanent institutions of power led by working communities of color. Through our worker-driven campaigns, CTUL is opening the space for workers to have a voice in shaping their wor