NEWS

Southdale Safety Campaign Ramps Up Ahead of Shopping Season

Edina, Minnesota - November 4, 2017 – The Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 563 launched a new phase of a campaign to educate Southdale Center shoppers the public about the hazards that shoppers can face if contractors potentially fail to follow proper safety procedures during asbestos removal and other aspects of mall renovation with an action that will be streamed on Facebook Live.

The union’s effort will kick-off on Saturday, November 4, at 2 PM at W 66th St and Drew Ave S., and will be available via Facebook Live on the LIUNA Minnesota and Shop At Your Own Risk Facebook pages. After a short press briefing featuring skilled construction workers wearing asbestos protection gear, the union will take its safety message directly to shoppers using flyers that feature maps of mall construction activity and direct shoppers to the Shop At Your Own Risk website and Facebook Page (see below).

The union says says that they are particularly concerned by mall owner Simon Properties’ selection of an out-of-state contractor whose sister company has been cited for mishandling asbestos to remediate an old J.C.Penney location that will soon host the Twin Cities’ most luxurious Life Time Fitness branch. Workers employed by National Environmental Services Corporation, based in Bloomington, Indiana, are onsite under an asbestos removal permit that extends into the Christmas shopping season.

“We investigated National Environmental Services Corporation and we didn’t like what we found,” according to Kevin Pranis, Marketing Manager for LIUNA Minnesota, which represents skilled asbestos remediation workers. “This is a company that’s never completed an asbestos remediation job in Minnesota, whose sister company National Salvage was cited by the Ohio EPA for improperly discharging asbestos emissions on an abatement project in Kenton. If something like that happened at Southdale, it could endanger mall employees and shoppers as well as construction workers.”

The public information action planned for November 4 will feature laborers in asbestos removal equipment complete with protective suits and respirators. The campaign represents a revival of the unions’ “Shop at Your Own Risk” campaign, which was launched in 2014 when representatives uncovered a series of safety lapses during the renovation of Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka.

“Building Trades members documented unlocked electrical boxes, fall hazards, improper disposal of hazardous materials, and unsecured demolition sites where shoppers or their kids could have been exposed at Ridgedale Center,” says Minneapolis Building Trades President Dan McConnell, “Mall management didn’t move fast enough to fix the problem so we took to the streets until we saw safety practices improve.”

Pranis said he finds it ironic that Simon Properties hired a contractor like National Environmental Services Corporation for a location that will ultimately house a Life Time Fitness.

“If I were trying to build the Twin Cities’ premier fitness location, I wouldn’t want Simon Properties to take any chances when it comes to asbestos,” said Pranis. “You don’t want your customers to wonder what they might be breathing.”

Shop at Your Own Risk Southdale Center Event at a Glance

What: Union members deliver safety message to shoppers and mall employees wearing full abatement suits and gas masks.
When: Saturday, November 4, at 2 PM
Where: Southdale Center, W. 66th St and Drew Ave S., Edina, MN, and via Facebook Live
Links to Watch Live : http://www.shopatyourownrisk.com/home or https://www.facebook.com/ShopAtYourOwnRisk/

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