Worthington Globe Reports on Protest Against Outsourcing at Red Pine Wind


Worthington Globe Windfarm Photo 9-5-17.jpg

REGIONAL — A project to construct 100 wind turbines near Ivanhoe has provoked outrage among construction unions representing workers in and around southwest Minnesota, who say the project is largely being done by employees outsourced from out-of-state

Like many union leaders before him, Will Thomssen, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 agent, wanted to see for himself. He traveled to Lincoln County to scour the license plates of workers’ cars and saw plenty of California, Texas, Oregon and Nebraska, but not much Minnesota blue.

It was a surprising sight for the former operating engineer, who got his start in construction in 1999, running a crane for some of Minnesota’s first wind turbine construction projects near Lake Benton.

“We have the expertise to do these wind projects,” Thomssen said. “We built the first wind farms in the state, so we have a lot of workers who know what they’re doing and would love to do this project.”

Project director EDF Renewable Energy selected Indiana contractor IEA to erect the turbines, rather than a local union contractor that has hired locally in the past, such as M.A. Mortenson.

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“Wind is a local resource, it’s no different from having iron or copper deposits in the land... You can’t build a wind farm anywhere. Southwest Minnesota should be leveraging that resource — saying if you build here, you’re going to hire local people.”