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Laborers Union Sets Up Picket Line in Wayzata

Union leaders say the concrete crews performing work at the new municipal liquor store site are being paid unfairly low wages. Company's owners say union is missing key facts.

The state Laborers Union is picketing a municipal construction site in Wayzata.

From behind a sign reading “Shame on: City of Wayzata. Tell Thompson Construction to Stop Exploiting Workers,” Mike Connelly talks with passers by about why he and the Laborers Union will be at the intersection of Lake Street and Superior Avenue for the next two days.

Connelly, who represents the union, says Thompson Construction, the Princeton-based company hired to do concrete and sidewalk work at the new municipal liquor store site, pays their workers an unfairly low wage and is exploiting workers in the name of profit.

Picketing began early Thursday and, at around 9:30 a.m., Connelly was joined in his stand by two other supporters. 

“It’s not really a union deal, it’s the fact they are not being fair to the workers,” Connelly said. “They’re not getting the wages they should be getting for this type of work in this area.”

Matt Thompson, co-owner of Thompson Construction, says Laborers Union protestors are off base with their claims of low wages and suggested there was an ulterior motive for the picketing.

“The reason they’re out there is because we’re not union,” Thompson said. “They don’t know what we pay our guys. They have no clue about pay or benefits or retirement. They’re not happy because we’re taking their work.”

Thompson went on to say that the City of Wayzata saved “quite a bit of money” by not using union workers and said he has addressed concerns raised by city about his business practices and model. Asked why Thompson Construction doesn’t employ union workers, Thompson said it was a matter of preference and that there was no law requiring his company or any other to hire unionized workers.

That doesn’t sit well with the Laborers Union and Mike Connelly, who says Thompson Construction is taking advantage of a down construction industry in order to fatten their bottom line.

“We represent people that do that work all over the state, and we would just like to see them get paid the same­­—close, anyway,” Connelly said.

Connelly said crews on the job site working for Thompson Construction generally leave him and his fellow picketers alone and understand the Laborers Union’s position. Wayzata police paid the picketers a visit early Thursday morning and instructed them to stay out of the way and not impede pedestrian or vehicle traffic.

Connelly said he and the Laborers Union sign would be in Wayzata through Thursday and most of Friday.

“It’s just an informational thing to let people know what’s going on,” he said.

mike kaiseR April 21, 2011 at 04:49 PM
yes, or at least local. These out of town guys have been low balling jobs for years. I would ckeck them out to see if they have all there insurance and bonding ducks in a row. I would check everyone on the job site to make sure they are not working for cash.
Rex April 21, 2011 at 07:32 PM
It's no ones business tough times and the Union still thinks a baseball bat is the right way but we all know it's the Obama way! why not ask where the Union's pensions have gone to? the fat cat Union heads suck up all the Union members pension money and the members blame everone else except them selves for joining the union, take a hint get out of the union and you may have a job unless you need the union to protect your lasy butt.
Fred April 22, 2011 at 08:55 PM
The city officials of Wayzata did exactly what elected officials are supposed to do. They gave everyone a fair chance to get the work and Thompson Construction was the lowest qualified bidder. This is America, it is the way that the free enterprise system is supposed to work.
Jan April 27, 2011 at 02:33 AM
The union must know what the workers are being paid or they wouldn't be out there protesting. That is what unions are all about, workers and their rights.
Dennis Holman September 09, 2011 at 08:54 PM
@Jan: That's what unions SHOULD be about. Now all too often, they're about preserving their own existence IN SPITE of workers and their rights.
Terry October 08, 2012 at 08:05 PM
SHAME ON YOU: UNION!!! Tell the unions to stop trying to ruin the name of anyone that is not paying them money. Any one of you willing to hold a sign or type a post that bashes someone or thier business simply because they don't belong to your club need to think about how it would feel to be on the recieving end. I know Matt and his family personally and they are all great people. Matt has treated my family with grace and kindness and I will not let this haters union make false claims about him and his company in an attempt to strong arm him into becoming union. Unions should try getting thier work by becomming competetive, rather than through hate and fear.
Chet October 11, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Now these union pukes are standing on the main street here in Princeton holding a sing, not working. I would guess they still collect a pay check for keeping that sign from falling over. Good luck Matt.
Jake February 10, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Because of the Unions we have to pay so much more for our every day items. how good does it make for some union workers to get paid 2 to 3 times more than anybody else . and then we all have to pay so much more for every thing we buy, just to make up this peoples pay. I tried working union but first thing they want is collect your money in dues. and the the first think they teach you is to work slow to make the job last for as long as posible. So now do the math and think why every thing is becoming so expensive, and people are resorting to china imports and those who can are moving overseaes to manufacture their goods and products.

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