“The treatment of workers involved in the Viking Lakes project is stunning and unacceptable,” said Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis). “I commend the bravery of the dozens of workers who have stepped forward to report over $100,000 in wage theft. The scope of their allegations indicates that wage theft is not only a regular occurrence on these projects but a part of the subcontractors’ business models. While I offered an amendment this session to prevent Senate Republicans from weakening wage theft laws, they blocked it. This story makes clear that instead of weakening wage theft laws, we need to strengthen them. I will continue to press for stricter enforcement of Minnesota’s strong wage theft laws.”
Despite passing legislation on wage theft in 2019 that strengthened penalties for businesses that engaged in it, enforcement has been difficult due to a lack of resources. Additionally, in the debate on the Senate Jobs and Energy Omnibus Bill on April 26, Senate DFLers offered an amendment to block Senate Republican efforts which loosens requirements and reduces penalties for employers that commit wage theft. Senate Republicans blocked this amendment.