April 23, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Minneapolis, MN – In 2011, the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council launched an organization to fight wage theft in public-sector construction. The Fair Contracting Foundation of Minnesota, a nonprofit labor management committee, employs three investigative attorneys who pursue complaints about it.
The council “wanted to make sure all the contractors that were bidding on public work were adhering to the law,” foundation executive director Mike Wilde told the Minneapolis Southwest Journal. Complaints most commonly come from individual workers, union representatives, and contractors who don’t want to compete with rivals who are cheating, and the most common violations are not paying prevailing wage and misclassifying workers as independent contractors. “A man with a van and a paintbrush is a painter, Joe’s Paint Company, and it’s a scam,” Wilde said. “And that way the employers don’t pay Social Security, any FICA taxes, any state or federal taxes, or worker’s comp. So they drive bids down.” The foundation is helped by Minnesota’s “responsible contractor” law, which went into effect last year and prohibits contractors from bidding on public-sector work if they can’t prove they’re complying with workers’ compensation and wage laws. Read more