EDINA, Minn. - Allegations of child labor at an Edina school construction project are prompting calls for an investigation. In a letter addressed to Edina Public Schools Superintendent Ric Dresson, both the Teachers and Laborers Union are making allegations that child labor violations exist on a current project to expand Cornelia Elementary School.
A series of photos taken by union representatives appear to show a child, possibly as young as 13, working on a construction site to build new elementary classrooms. Kevin Pranis, with the Minnesota Laborers Union said, "we believe children should be learning in classrooms, not building them."
Pranis tells KARE 11 that union representatives have been keeping an eye on the $880,000 project to expand Cornelia Elementary, even though it is not a union job. They took the pictures and blew the whistle to both the school district and the MN Department of Labor and Industry when they saw the young teen working on the job site. "We were very concerned for that child's safety. He was working without protective equipment on, on potentially dangerous tasks. Saw cutting and operating a bobcat," said Pranis.
Edina Schools Director of Communications Susan Brott confirms to KARE 11 that the district has learned a minor was on the construction site. Brott said the district is taking the situation seriously, will investigate what else to do as a district, and will turn it over to the appropriate authorities.
The MN Department of Labor and Industry tells KARE 11 they're also looking into the situation. Labor investigators received 17 child labor complaints in Minnesota last year, but only two of them resulted in penalties and fines for the employer.