Electrical Workers question safety, wage standards of Lowry Building overhaul

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers man a banner outside the Lowry Building in St. Paul.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers man a banner outside the Lowry Building in St. Paul.

Local 110 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is targeting a contractor that union leaders say has undermined area-standard wages and benefits – and may be putting his workers at risk.

Jim Crockarell, vice president of Madison Equities, drew a “Shame On” banner from the union last month after contracting with Reliance Electric do to installation work at the Lowry Building downtown St. Paul.

“Reliance Electric does not pay the area-standard wages and benefits fought for and secured by St. Paul Electricians,” the IBEW flier distributed at the site reads.

The Lowry Building is undergoing a complete remodeling, and Ramsey County intends to lease the bottom two floors for the County Attorney’s offices.

Brian Winkelaar, IBEW Local 110’s political director, said the county has assured the union prevailing wages will be paid on any remodeling work done on the bottom two floors, but Crockarell “has discretion over” in the rest of the building.

What’s more, Winkelaar and other Local 110 representatives visited the worksite Nov. 29 and found safety standards lacking.

“We saw open electrical panels, stairwells that had no handrails and numerous trip hazards,” Winkelaar said. “All these things we are told when we go on a job site need to be done – none of them were done there.”

The company has a stake in several buildings around St. Paul – from Lexington Plaza in Roseville to the building that houses the Hat Trick Lounge in Lowertown. Electricians will be taking their banner to all of the sites to shame Crockarell even more – until he hires a contractor that pays prevailing wages and puts its workers’ safety first.

“All workers deserve to go home after a day’s work,” Winkelaar said.

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