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Non-union construction workers on the Viking Lakes complex in Eagan are accusing two of the development's subcontractors of wage theft and other labor violations. 

The allegations were first detailed Wednesday in an investigation by the Minnesota Reformer

At a press conference Thursday, the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters — the union organizing the workers — said the allegations are being investigated by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. 

Representatives of NCSRCC allege the Wilf family, who owns the Vikings and developed the project through the family's real estate company, turned a blind eye to the treatment of workers by hiring contractors with a documented past of exploitative practices, including child labor and wage theft.

The allegations 

MV Ventures, the Wilf's real estate company, hired Absolute Drywall and Advantage Construction for the first phase of work on the development's luxury apartments, according to NCSRCC. 

Advantage Construction subcontracted their work to Property Maintenance and Construction (PMC). 

Burt Johnson, general counsel for NCSRCC, said more than 25 workers have since brought forward claims of exploitation by Absolute Drywall and PMC. 

The Reformer investigation detailed workers putting in 50-hour weeks on the job, suffering injuries and being underpaid in cash. They claim that between them they are owed more than $100,000.

Johnson, a longtime labor lawyer, said he's never seen so many complaints stemming from one job site. 

“They need to be believed," he said, adding dozens of workers have already been interviewed by state investigators.  

In Minnesota, violations of wage theft laws are subject to civil and criminal penalties

In a statement Thursday, MV Ventures said 50% of the work done at the job site was awarded to union trades. 

"All of the selected subcontractors were legally entitled to bid and perform work in Minnesota," MV Ventures said. "They also signed agreements ensuring fair labor practices for workers at the site and requiring strict compliance with all federal and state labor, benefit, workers’ compensation and wage laws." 

The company also stated it had not seen any filed complaints or been contacted by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. 

"Allegations of unfair labor practices on the job site were never raised during construction nor were they brought to our attention in the year since the project opened," the company's press release stated. "Furthermore, at no point during our recent extensive discussions with the Carpenters Union regarding the next phase of residential construction was there a mention of alleged unfair labor practices, including those concerning the individuals mentioned in the media over the last several days." 

"Should an investigation be initiated, we will fully support and cooperate, and if these claims are legitimate, the subcontractors in question, neither of which have been selected to work on the future residential project, will have breached their contracts with MV Ventures and should be held accountable," the statement concluded. 

Bring Me The News reached out to Absolute Drywall and Advantage Construction on Thursday. Requests seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Vikings Lakes is a major development of land near to the Vikings' TCO Performance Center training complex in Eagan. It comprises 200 acres of land that will eventually be home to 1,000 apartment units, as well as 3 million square feet of commercial space, and the already open Omni Vikings Lakes Hotel.

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