(LANSING, MI.)–As the stalemate between the contractor’s association and union road workers carries on, the state is looking at bringing in the National Guard to get key projects moving again.
Union road workers have been locked out for three weeks after the two sides failed to come to an agreement following the expiration of their contract on June 1st.
Talks led by Governor Rick Snyder last week broke down and the two sides do not appear any closer to an agreement.
The County Road Association says over 150 state and local road projects are at a stand still as the end of the construction season approaches.
The Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association says they are in talks with the National Guard on how best to jumpstart road projects affected by the lockout.
This statement is from Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA). Nystrom is commenting on discussions now underway between MITA and the National Guard on how best to deploy National Guard heavy equipment operators to road projects currently shut down because of a defensive lockout with Operating Engineers (OE), Local 324. Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed using National Guard equipment operators to restart work on stalled road projects until OE 324 workers are back on the job. On June 1, the contract between MITA member companies and OE 324 expired.
“MITA is in direct conversations with high-ranking officials at the National Guard about how the industry and National Guard might work together to jumpstart road projects that have been affected by the Operating Engineers, Local 324 (OE 324) defensive lockout. MITA is surveying its members to determine specific operator needs required to temporarily replace all OE 324 members in terms of numbers, qualifications and geographical needs across the state. Due to the fact that not all operators use the same pieces of equipment, it is important for the safety of the job site and the integrity of the work that each project gets the appropriate operators for the job. Once this is determined, MITA and the National Guard will work with MDOT to determine how these equipment operators will be integrated into the contractors’ workforce. In the meantime, MITA continues to stand ready to meet with OE 324 leaders anytime to start meaningful talks.”
So, as Michigan edges closer to the end of paving season, the County Road Association (CRA) of Michigan is calling for an immediate resolution to the impasse in roadwork statewide that has halted over 150 state and local road projects since
CRA and its 83 county road agency members are not party to the negotiations, although many road agencies have affected projects that could enter winter unfinished if the impasse continues.
“Depending on the weather, particularly in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, the last asphalt and concrete will be put down in as little as four to six weeks’ time,” said Denise Donohue, CRA director. “County road agencies have a number of partially-finished roads and bridges or projects that haven’t even been started.”
“Going into winter with incomplete road and bridge projects is very concerning to all 83 Michigan county road agencies, as unfinished road surfaces may suffer over winter and could possibly compromise driver safety in winter conditions,” Donohue said. “Our road agencies are working with the contractors to maintain a safe work zone for motorists at all times.”
“With this impasse nearly three weeks old, county road agencies are already worried about how to plow the snow and ice off a half-finished road segment,” Donohue said. “We implore MITA and the Operating Engineers Local 324, the Snyder Administration and the Legislature to find a way to re-activate roadwork on Michigan’s fragile county transportation system. County road agencies work well with the contractors and operating engineers who assist us in delivering quality road projects for the public.”
The 83 members of the County Road Association of Michigan represent the unified voice for a safe and efficient county transportation infrastructure system in Michigan, including appropriate stewardship of the public’s right-of-way in rural and urban Michigan. Collectively, Michigan’s county road agencies manage 75 percent of all roads in the state, including 90,000 miles of roads and 5,700 bridges. County road agencies also maintain the state’s highway system in 64 counties. Michigan has the nation’s fourth-largest local road system.