Wisconsin 'right-to-work' critic will expand company in Minnesota

(Duluth News Tribune) The owner of a Wisconsin company invited to move to Minnesota in protest of its new "right-to-work" law says he plans to at least expand in the Gopher State -- provided enough contracts come his way to support the business. James Hoffman, owner of Black River Falls-based Hoffman Construction Co., which works mostly on highway construction projects, said his current plans are to more than double the size of his Lakeville office by the end of the year.

Hoffman said Monday night that the reason is twofold: he believes the right-to-work law will ultimately cost his company money, and he sees Minnesota’s proposal to increase transportation funding as offering greater business opportunities.

By the end of 2015, the Lakeville office would add at least another two salaried positions to the current two and add another 15 to 20 hourly positions to the current 10 to 12.

But the expansion would depend on being successful on competitive bids, Hoffman added.

Over the past year, the company has expanded more than 50 percent and added 200 workers. It now has 50 salaried and 300 hourly positions across Wisconsin and Minnesota, Hoffman said. Currently, 45 percent of Hoffman’s business comes from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and 15 percent comes from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature approved the fast-tracked right-to-work measure Friday, and Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Monday signed it into law. It prohibits organized labor from forcing all workers to pay union dues or fees. 

Read the entire article by Ted Veznor, St Paul Pioneer Press.