ROGERS, Minn. (WCCO) — You can’t miss the sprawling concrete building taking shape at the eastern edge of a Rogers industrial park.

The large building will be a central distribution center for the Illinois-based Medline Company, a giant supplier of medical supplies to hospitals across the country.

Among its largest customers in Minnesota is the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. So it’s not surprise the facility is being built just 20 miles from downtown.

On Wednesday, the sounds of heavy equipment were mixed with the chants of, “Minnesota jobs, Minnesota workers!”

The protest by the areas’ unemployed trades groups is aimed at the California contractor building the complex, Panattoni Construction. Minnesota labor unions are upset that Panattoni is importing its workforce from outside the state rather than hiring locally. That’s bringing a stinging response from members of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council.

“It’s been real tough,” said Jon Burns, currently an unemployed electrician.

The recession has already cost Burns and his wife their home. He’s been without steady employment for the past three years. In fact, unemployment in Minnesota’s construction trades is close to 25 percent.

That’s why the hiring of an out of state workforce is prime for protest.

“Cheaper has got to be the reason. They don’t want to pay the wages that Minnesota has fought for to pay the bills up here,” said Burns.

The union rallied at the construction site in an attempt to persuade Hennepin County to step in. With no tax dollars paying for the private company’s job, the county has no dog in the fight.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman addressed the crowd, saying, “In order to enforce the prevailing wage there’s got to be government money in the project. The best we can figure out there’s no public money in this project.”

With no prevailing wage standard to enforce, the private contractor is under no obligation. But if Medline wants to keep a large customer happy, hiring unemployed workers like Mark Lindquist might be in everyone’s best interest.

“We’re able to do it. We are licensed in the state and able to do it just like they are – they’re just taking it you know,” Lindquist said.

Comments (43)
  1. d says:

    Cant find a job if your busy protesting

  2. Billy says:

    Three years and no job, really…nothing? Sounds to me that you’re a fat lazy union hack that can’t wait to blame everyone but yourself.

    1. Me says:

      I wouldn’t call them fat or lazy. They just are like every other American who think that they are “too good” to work at walmart, target, or a fast food restaurant. I was unemployed and worked at a fast food place until I could find another job. I did what had to be done. Americans act like they are better than people who work at these places. In my eyes, we are all equal.

      1. Jake says:

        I know of three people who have found GOOD full time jobs within the past year. Do any of them pay $80K a year?? No. But they pay much better than minimum and have benefits. Two of them were near the age of 50, they were in good health, didn’t have tats or piercings all over their faces or necks, had good credit ratings, weren’t drinking bong water, didn’t have DUI’s or other crimes on their rap sheets, showed up every day for work ON TIME, weren’t STUPID ENOUGH to ‘protest’ and put their names all over the internet for such a failing cause, etc. Need I say more??

        1. jackactionhero says:

          Yes. Why is protesting a bad choice?

          My wife worked at the IBEW 110 for electricians. They have almost 2000 electricians that are waiting on a list for work and have been for a couple years.

          They have a skilled trade, and should be the ones employed in MN, not workers from CA while Minnesotans are losing their homes.

          Going from being a skilled, journeyman electrician to another career and still being able to support your family is not quite as simple as you want to make us believe.

  3. Jake says:

    Outside of the state?? How about outside of the COUNTRY?? Is anybody checking the citizen status of these workers?

    1. GN says:

      dump the davis-bacon act and let’s put more people back to work with half the cost of the union controlled construction trades.

  4. TrapperMN says:

    I worked around unions for years, conclusion: lazy, slow, complainers, always taking breaks, always behind schedule. I watched a non-union painting crew of 4 guys do more in 1 day than the union crew of 12 accomplished in same amount of hours.

    1. Mike says:

      TRapperMN Your so full of BS. I have worked union jobs and they are the most heavy handed supervised jobs anywhere in the USA. I currently work for a fortune 500 company and it has the most uneven performance driven job imaginable based on how far your head is up the supervisors derriere. You are a lying, deceitful little bee itch.

  5. angus says:

    I just love the biased comments of d, Billy, and Jake. No knowledge but willing to make their comments. I wonder, did d not know of anymore letters to add to d or can’t he remember his full name.

    I am retired but am working part time with construction workers who are working part time, minimum wage plus a $1 or $2 trying to get by. Note: Nearly 25% unemployment in construction. That is statistical data. Assume you have a nice secure job.

    1. College kid says:

      I agree with you. I love how some people who have had the same steady job for years thinks it is so easy to go out and get a job. I am a college student who is hoping and praying that when I graduate in a year and half there will be a job for me. I also am realistic, I will work at a fast food place or anywhere I can get a job to make ends me while I search for a job in my field.

    2. Jake says:

      Hey angus, been a union paying dues member for like **30 YEARS**, do you think that for the amount that I have been PAYING, I shouldn’t be allowed to SAY what I REALLY FEEL?? No knowledge?? KMA, B!! I work my butt of, but many of my fellow ‘union’ members so SUBSTANDARD WORK ON A REGULAR BASIS, and I CAN PROVE IT AT THE DROP OF A HAT. Shove it where the sun don’t shine.

    3. Jake says:

      If there is a 25% unemployment rate in the construction field, it’s ether because nobody wants to pay your unrealistic labor rates, or they just don’t need what you are selling. Or maybe your ‘quality’ isn’t what it used to be. Union labor is overrated. That’s not to say that SOME union workers are overpaid, I would say that they are UNDERPAID, because they have to make up for the idocy of thse who do substandard work, but get paid according to schedule, ANYWAY.

    4. Jake says:

      Hey angus, the situation was so bad between me and a co-union worker, that I tried to get him some help with his alcohol problem. First, I went to the union. NO HELP. Then, I went to my boss, guess what, NO HELP. Finally, I called the COPS. Guess what, HE announced his ‘retirement’ within a couple of months. Does that not display an obscence level of ignorance, of lack of SUPERVISION, of lack of PROFESSIONALISM, of lack of RESPECT for your CO-WORKER??

    5. Jake says:

      Biased, my arse. Having been a dues paying member for 30 years, HOW could I be ‘biased’ by saying anything NEGATIVE against a union or other unions?? Do you know how much mail-delivered RUBBISH has been sent to my mailbox??

      Yes, I DO HAVE a NICE, SECURE JOB, at least for now, and anticiipate that it will still be there for quite awhile. KNOW WHY?? Because I generally do a BETTER JOB than my peers, I don’t complain much, and I show up everyday, prepared to help my company succeed. It’s called having a ‘positive attitude’.

      Maybe, just maybe, the reason I don’t buy into all of the union **BS** is because of all of the times that they have let me down, BIG TIME, or supported BS politicians who said that they would support us, only to stab us in the BACK, like obama just did by signing off on these new ‘free trade’ agreeements. So, he didn’t learn from Clinton’s idiocy?? Can’t fix stupid, I guess.

  6. Walter says:

    Why didn’t this story include how much the union workers were demanding per hour?

    1. dabrilloman says:

      and why does ot not show how little the ones who are working are being paid!

    2. jackactionhero says:

      Prevailing Wage means they receive journeyman wages if they are a journeyman, regardless of the job or the location of the job. If their union in MN has negotiated a $28/hour wage for journeyman electricians or carpenters or what-have-you, then they get that wage, period. A contractor can’t hire them and say “Hey, we’ll pay you $12/hr for this job, take it or leave it.”

      That is prevailing wage. Look it up. They aren’t “demanding” anything, Walter.

  7. john says:

    I am a forman of a highway heavy union concrete crew and I will put my 7 against any non union crew out there. the reason non union wages are high is because of the gains the unions have made for us all. remember together we bargain divided we beg ! p.s. painting is womens work

    1. Billy says:

      I don’t believe you.

      1. Walter says:

        Yeah, he’s lying.

        1. Topper says:

          Thanks big John for summing up the attitude of the union elite, “Painting is woman’s work”. You and your union thugs made your own future when you negotiated a so-called living wage to “pay the bills”. Guess what, you are NOT entitiled to your F350 Super Duty, 17 foot Glastron, 80 acre hunting preserve or 55″ big screen on the backs of the rest of us. Welcome to the new reality you helped create. My advice, get off thei picket line and get a job. Oh yeah, you’d rather gripe and complain than do woman’s work.

  8. Lennie Chism says:

    You’re Invited – Sat, Oct 22nd 9am, Minorities ASKING – Where are our JOBS/CONTRACTS on Federal Funded Projects, Light Rail, MnDOT? Let’s Talk Solution – Invited Gov. Dayton, Sen. Klobuchar, Rep. Ellison, Rep. McCollum, LETTER for JOB SUMMIT, CONGRESS

  9. Dustin says:

    If a company is paying 10 bucks an hour, the job is worth 10 bucks an hour. If the unions don’t like that, then someone else will do the work. You all bargained your way to unemployment.

    1. jackactionhero says:

      You just don’t know what you’re talking about, kiddo. That’s all there is to it. Did you read the part about prevailing wage? Do you know what that means? They can’t go take another job doing the same thing for a non-union company, and they cannot be paid less than their prevailing wage. That’s how it works, son.

  10. Kevin says:

    Its called Capitalism….Unions dont get it…..

  11. Jake says:

    It’s just easier for someone to get paid $15 an hour for doing nothing on unemployment than to have to WORK for $12 and hour, and actually pay taxes. Yeah, that will solve our country’s problems in a hurry….

    1. dphilips says:

      unemployment is fully taxable idiot

    2. Karen says:

      Apparently you’ve never collected unemployment pay or you would know that they make nowhere near $15.00 an hour – try closer to $10.00 – $12.00 if you made more than $50 grand in the previous quarter you were working. I also understand some people are milking the system, unfortunately we have that everywhere. This story isn’t about that, but about a company who should have hired locally for the construction job – whether it was union or not and most of you would be really ticked if your employer suddenly decided to can you and hire someone cheaper from somewhere else – I think this country as a whole stopped understanding the difference between right and wrong.

      1. Willow says:

        Wow. I was on unemployment once and I made like $4 an hour. I took the first temp job that came up after like, a month because I was sick of eating beans and rice. Where on Earth do people get the idea the unemployed get $15 an hour? It is not cushy, it is not fun, and imho if you’re on unemployment, you’d better be looking for a real job that pays more.

  12. Jake says:

    Go dowtown and join the OWS crowd and see how much ‘respect’ you get. LOL.

  13. Jake says:

    So angus, what do you actually do for a living, besides post on blogs??

  14. Jake says:

    The Union guys should’ve been a little more competitive with their bid for the work!

    1. johns says:

      local contractors had little or no opportunity to bid this Medline project.The general cont.had made those choices long before they hit town.I watched this project un-fold.When the general contractor hit town with their sub-contractors,it looked like a three-ring circus,tents and all.

  15. Stumps says:

    Um no1 owes any of you anything.

  16. Jimmy says:

    I own a 13 year old construction company in Minneapolis. 75% of my work is commercial. Most of my subcontractors have been working for me for 10+ years and are my good friends at this point in time. Half of my subcontractors are union and the other half aren’t. If a subcontractor does a good job in a timely manner for a fair price, no one really cares whether they’re union or not. Businesses are like people, there’s some good ones and there’s some bad ones. Unions are a great thing for some people and they’re a terrible thing for other people, it all depends on the person.

    1. Walter says:

      So, you want to get the best workers for the lowest price? And unions don’t matter?

      What a revolutionary concept.

  17. A Voter says:

    Let me see if I have this right, workers from California are coming here to work.
    I thought California’s cost of living was one of the highest in the nation, but their workers can afford to come to Minnesota, and work for lower wages? Something doesn’t add up, or are construction jobs here the equivalent of flipping burgers in California.

  18. Wake Up says:

    The reason people are upset and rightfully so is that if your going to build here you should use local employees not import from somewhere else, just makes good sense all around – I guess if I were upset enough I would make sure whoever the building was for had a really tough time doing business here – maybe MN companies shouldn’t purchase supplies from them – including Hennepin County.

  19. A Voter says:

    If people like Jake had brains they’d be dangerous. They would rather pay out of state workers wages plus pay local workers unemployment, rather than pay the local worker a living wage.

  20. Kevin says:

    The Unions support illegal workers! Illegal workers take jobs for unions and drive compensation into the dirt. Go Unions!

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