Workers will return to road construction projects that have been stalled since Labor Day due to an employee lockout, Gov. Snyder’s office announced Thursday.
The governor’s office helped broker a deal between the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, and Operating Engineers 324. MITA, a construction industry group representing road contractors, had locked out union workers over an ongoing contract dispute, bringing about 150 road construction projects around the state grinding to a halt.
The deal calls for OE 324 members to work the rest of the 2018 construction without a contract.
Union spokesman Dan McKernan says they’ve been working without a contract since their last one expired June 1. The union had been seeking to negotiate directly with Michigan Department of Transportation contractors, rather than with MITA as they traditionally have.
“We’re certainly going to be working our hardest to do everything we can to either catch up, or prepare them for safety throughout the winter,” McKernan said. “But certainly there will be some that won’t able to be completed, and for those we’ll just have to figure out how to make them as safe as possible for the time being.”
MDOT will decide which construction projects will take priority for now. As of today, the department was still in the process of coming up with a list of projects that can be wrapped up before winter weather hits, spokesman Jeff Cranson said.
Additionally, “MDOT will continue to review contract provisions related to completion dates, extensions for work, and possible financial penalties on a project-by-project basis, as is the standard procedure,” Snyder’s office said in a press release. “The Governor also has directed the department to carefully monitor all projects and ensure a high level of quality is maintained despite an accelerated pace of work.”
The deal calls for MITA and OE 324 to enter mediation to help facilitate a new, long term contract agreement.
“Our contractors have heard the message from the governor, and understand the moral obligation to put this dispute aside in an effort to finish a number of stalled road projects across the state, to protect the driving public and assist businesses affected by these projects,” MITA Executive Vice President Mike Nystrom said in a statement. “The trigger that ended this lock out for the contractors was the fact that OE 324 agreed to mediation this winter. Contractors and OE 324 will use professional mediation through the winter to help them with negotiations for a new contract.”