Today, the Hennepin County Attorney announced charges of insurance fraud and theft by swindle against the owners of Merit Drywall. According to the criminal complaint, the two defendants, Leroy and Joyce Mehr, misclassified workers as independent contractors to avoid paying more than $300,000 in workers compensation insurance premiums.
“Wage theft, insurance fraud and worker classification fraud have no place in Minnesota. It is critical that the legal system hold those who are accused of these crimes against construction workers accountable,” said Jessica Looman, Executive Director of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council, an advocate for Minnesota’s union construction industry. “We want to thank the Hennepin County Attorneys office, the Minnesota Department of Commerce Fraud Bureau, and the Building Trades Unions in our state for protecting workers and our industry.”
“The case against the former owners of Merit Drywall shows the strength of the construction community when we stand together and demand action when workers complain of wage theft and worker misclassification,” said Dan McConnell, Business Manager of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council. “Our members have lost their patience with those developers and general contractors who have profited from schemes like the one alleged here. Together, the Building Trades Unions will do everything we can to continue to assist in ensuring that those who are complicit in the exploitation of workers are held accountable.”
Minnesota’s Building Trades Unions have launched an initiative to combat wage theft, exploitation, and labor trafficking which poses a growing threat to the welfare of immigrant workers and the health of the state’s construction industry. The “Not On My Watch” or “Ya No Mas” campaign enlists union members in efforts to identify cases of abuse, and to assist exploited construction workers on Minnesota jobsites.
The Minnesota and Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Councils will continue to support efforts to protect all Minnesota construction workers. #notonmywatch.
About the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council: Representing 70,000 skilled union construction professionals working in 15 trades, the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council is focused on growing a diverse and inclusive construction industry workforce, protecting the physical and financial health of construction workers, and advocating for increased private and public investment in construction and infrastructure. For more information about the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council visit www.mntrades.org.