Unions Warn Black Friday Shoppers of Holiday Hazards at Ridgedale Center

Recent Discovery of Open, Unguarded Skylight Shows Continued Disregard for Public, Workplace Safety.

While holiday shoppers look for gifts this Black Friday at Ridgedale Center, union members say the mall’s owners should expect coal in their stocking due to lax construction safety practices that have repeatedly put shoppers and workers at risk.

A group of local union activists represented by the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council are paying a visit to Ridgedale Center this Black Friday, to make sure shoppers know what construction hazards to watch for during the mall’s remodeling project.

Sign of Shop at Your Own Risk campaign

“Shoppers have a right to know what risks they’re being exposed to,” said Tim Mackey, Business Manager of Construction and General Laborers Local 563. “The mall owners would apparently rather keep safety violations quiet and wait until someone gets hurt. We’re here during one of the busiest shopping days of the year to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The concerns stem from Ridgedale Center’s $100 million remodeling project, which has been dogged by delays and safety issues since it began last year. Union members have documented dangers such as unlocked electrical boxes, improper disposal of hazardous materials, unsecured demolition sites, and fall hazards. 

The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected a Ridgedale Center construction project and cited a half dozen major safety violations in August of this year.  The latest unwelcome discovery is a giant open skylight that exposed crews working on a slippery mall roof to a potentially deadly fall onto hard concrete and spear-like reinforcement bars (see http://www.shopatyourownrisk.com/news for more details).  

General Growth Properties, the Chicago-based company that owns Ridgedale Center, promised back in May to address the safety problems. Instead, the problems multiplied and the unions took their case directly to the by handing out safety leaflets and buying ads that target the mobile devices of Ridgedale shoppers.  

Union leaders say that GGP has responded with heavy-handed and illegal tactics, including the threat of arrest, to prevent activists from talking to shoppers and tenants.  But the company has been unable to counter a mobile ad campaign that has driven hundreds of shoppers to the ShopAtYourOwnRisk.com  informational website.  

“All we want is for GGP to live up to their promises and fix the safety problems at the mall,” said Mackey. “Most shoppers go to the mall looking for deals. We're here to tell them GGP is offering something they didn't bargain for.”

At a Glance

  • What: Union members deliver message of mall safety to holiday shoppers 
  • When: Friday, November 28 at 10 a.m. to noon
  • Where: Ridgedale Center, Plymouth Road entrance (Plymouth & Cartway Lane)
  • Who: The Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council

Related story -October 24, 2014  Union coalition launches Shop at Your Own Risk ad campaign 

 

About The Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council

The 16,000-member Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council is the advocate voice for unionized construction workers in Minneapolis and surrounding communities.