The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has finished a state prevailing-wage investigation that secured nearly $315,000 in total back-wages owed to 70 construction workers of a subcontractor involved in the Digi-Key Electronic expansion project in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, during 2018 and 2019.
The back-wage amounts ranged from less than $100 to more than $11,000 in payments to individual workers. DLI found the subcontractor, Millennium Concrete, based in Coralville, Iowa, committed violations, including misclassifying the work employees were performing and paying them lower prevailing-wage rates, failing to pay the required overtime rate to certain workers and making unauthorized deductions from workers’ pay.
Digi-Key Electronics cooperated with the state investigation.
“Violations of state prevailing-wage have a negative impact on the ability of industry competitors to fairly bid for work that advances the economic development of Minnesota,” said Nancy Leppink, DLI commissioner. “We are committed to ensuring that workers are paid what they have rightly earned.”
The project received $44 million in state subsidies, expecting to create high-quality jobs for area workers.
In June 2019 immigrant workers accused subcontractor Millennium Concrete of underpaying them and mistreating them over the past year. Among other things, they are demanding payment of back wages and better treatment. Workers reported their experiences on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation:
Latino Millennium Concrete workers said that they had been paid less and treated differently than other employees doing similar work for the same employer.
One Millennium Concrete employee reported sustaining a severe injury on the job but receiving no medical treatment and working hurt until he couldn’t keep going. After he brought a note from a chiropractor, the employee said Millennium wouldn’t let him return to work, and office staff acted as if they didn’t know who he was even though he is listed on the company’s payroll reports.
On the Digi-Key expansion project, contractors were required to pay their workers prevailing-wage rates that are based on wages that are paid in the local community for the same type of work.