Using Allowance to Pay His Dues: 13-Year-Old Spotted Working at School Construction Site


Teachers and laborers want answers after it was discovered that a minor was working on the $880,000 expansion of Cornelia Elementary in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina.  Union reps who had been monitoring the worksite snapped photos of a young boy, age 13 or 14, performing dangerous work including operating a bobcat without proper safety gear.

“We believe children should be learning in classrooms not building them,” Kevin Pranis of the Minnesota Laborers Union stated sardonically

A letter from local unions followed, according to the Edina Patch:

In a letter to Edina Schools Superintendent Ric Dressen, the unions indicate that the youth was observed on the job site on multiple occasions performing tasks ranging from moving and placing concrete block to operating machinery to cutting block with a concrete saw.  The letter states that, on all but one occasion, the witnesses saw the work performed without the use of a hard hat, safety vest, or eye protection.  

A formal complaint was also submitted today to the U.S. Department of Labor and the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry based on a potential violation of child labor laws.  But the ability of Federal and state regulators to investigate the charge is hampered by the fact that the identity of the youth’s employer is still unknown.  According to the letter, the crews have used unmarked vehicles and equipment.

Tim Mackey, Business Manager of Laborers’ Local 563, praised his union for policing an otherwise unchecked worksite:

I think the Edina School District is fortunate that we caught the problem before someone got hurt or worse,” said Mackey.  “It’s time for the district to take a closer look at who they do business with and start looking for a better class of contractor.  For our part, we intend to pursue this issue until we’re certain that no contractor can put a child in harm’s way, in Edina or anywhere else in our area.”

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