Stone Pro Masonry

Wage theft and exploitation are growing problems in Minnesota's construction industry. Recent media reports indicate that unscrupulous employers have taken advantage of workers in the Twin Cities and statewide, from Rochester to Thief River Falls. Stone Pro Masonry, an Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based concrete and masonry contractor, appears to be one of the worst offenders.

Stone Pro owner Gerald Manning seems to think that immigrants are ruining America based on a review of Facebook, including content apparently posted by Manning that seems to advocate Building a Wall, fan the flames of Islamophobia and accuse immigrants of exploiting social programs.

But Manning's views on immigrants clearly have not stopped him from making a living off their labor, or from allegedly stealing some of their hard-earned wages based on an investigation by immigrant worker advocates and labor unions.

Despite his clearly anti-immigrant views, Gerald Manning’s company is among a small number of contractors that rely heavily on immigrant workers recruited through the Federal H-2B visa program. The H-2B program allows employers to bring in workers on temporary visas for seasonal work when U.S. workers cannot be found. The program has been described as rife with abuses and as a form of indentured servitude by the Southern Poverty Law Center because immigrant workers are shackled to a single employe and have little recourse when they are cheated or abused.

In 2019, Stone Pro obtained permission to employ 20 H-2B Visa Workers in the Twin Cities and 10 more in Eau Claire and Western Wisconsin. The H-2B program requires employers to pay minimum wage rates based on the location and type of work performed in order to protect immigrant workers from exploitation and prevent the program from displacing local workers or eroding area wage standards. Unfortunately, Stone Pro appeared to have systematically underpaid H-2B workers by nearly $8 per hour for hundreds of hours of work based on interviews and job site observations. A more detailed description of the apparent wage theft scheme can be found here

Stone Pro continues to rely on the H-2B program for labor. In 2020 and 2021, the company obtained permission to employ additional H-2B Visa workers in WIsconsin and Minnesota.

Stone Pro’s H-2B visa workers aren’t the only victims of the company’s evidently exploitative practices: the H-2B program requires employers to notify U.S. workers of job opportunities and hire qualified applicants before hiring H-2B visa workers. But concrete laborers in Minnesota and Wisconsin never got the notice because the jobs were listed under the wrong occupation at the wrong pay rates. If the information submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor is accurate, many Minnesota and Wisconsin laborers also lost opportunities to earn as much as $54,000 in wages each.

Stone Pro’s mistreatment and exploitation of immigrant workers is not limited to those on H-2B visas. Worker testimony alleges that the company’s non-H2B immigrant workforce has also been subject to abusive treatment by supervisors, cheated of wages owed, and threatened with immigration enforcement for objecting to mistreatment.