Friday, May 29, 2009

Do Minnesota Construction Workers and Union Members Need to Work In Unsafe Work Places?

NO! As recently reported on WCCO Television, construction workers in Minnesota face enormous risks of work injuries.

There's a lot of construction going on in downtown Minneapolis this summer from roads to the new ball park and everything in between.
One project at the top of the Target Center is causing controversy on the ground. Union roofers marched around the Target Center Thursday. They said non-union workers are facing unsafe conditions on this job. Union members shot night video to show there are no lights on while workers transform the top of the Target Center from concrete to a green, environmentally friendly roof. "Trabajamos en la noche obscuridad," said Celso Alvarado. "We work at night in the pitch dark," explained a translator. Alvarado has worked for Stock Roofing for five years. He said there were other safety violations – including no lines on safety harnesses, no safety goggles and no dust masks. Stock Roofing's president said the job at the Target Center is difficult because they can't do work when there is a show or concert. That means that more work is done at night. The company insisted it complies with all safety standards. The roofers union wanted city officials to take some of the blame. They said the city accepted a bid from a non-union company instead of doing business with unions. "Shame on those local officials who allow contractors to cut costs by putting workers in harm's way," said Rob Snider of United Union of Roofers, Local 96. "In this case the lowest bid was in fact $2 million below the next lowest, so a major savings for the green roof," said Mike Christenson, Director of Minneapolis Community Planning & Economic Development. "Having said that, we will accept no shortcuts on safety." Since workers filed their complaint, the company has added more lights for night work. Workers are ahead of schedule. They will begin planting up on the roof at the end of June and work is expected to be finished by the end of July.

When construction workers are injured on the job, they are entitled to special treatment under Minnesota's workers compensation statute. However, they are also subject to a very unfair arbitration program called the Union Construction Facilitation Program. If you are an injured Union or Construction worker, you should contact a experienced workers compensation attorney with Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Offices. Thomas Atkinson has nearly two decades of experience and has appeared before this unique Facilitation program many times over the years. Attorney Atkinson has "secret" tips he uses to avoid the pitfalls of this biases unfair system. Contact him directly if you are an injured union or construction worker at 651-324-9514.