LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – An agreement to finish up stalled road projects across the state has finally been reached, putting hundreds of union workers back on the job.
A dispute between a Michigan contractors association and an operating engineers union brought road projects across the state to a halt for months.
Now both sides will return to work under a good faith agreement to negotiate a new contract this winter.
Starting on Friday, hundreds of union workers will be back on the job.
But to be clear, the contractor’s association and union have not reached a long term deal. They’ve only decided to push their differences aside for now to finish the incomplete road projects before winter strikes.
“The main agreement is just to get back to work now,” said Mike Nystrom; Executive Vice President of the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association.
After months of failed attempts to negotiate a new contract, the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association, also called MITA, reached a short-term agreement with Operating Engineers 324 thanks to a meeting with Governor Rick Snyder and it’s an agreement both sides feel good about…temporarily.
“Both sides recognize that getting these projects put in to a state of either being finished or at least buttoned up for winter so that the driving public was not impacted was a high priority,” Nystrom stated.
“We feel very optimistic about the situation, our members are going back to work, the roads are going to get worked on so drivers you know will have less to be concerned about,” said Dan McKernan; Communications Director for Operating Engineers 324.
As far as the details of the short term deal, it includes the contractors association ending the lockout on all projects meaning union workers will report back to work right away.
The projects they’ll focus on first, are ones that can be finished before winter.
The remaining projects will continue for as long as possible and if they can’t be completed, preparations will need to be made so roads are safe during the winter season.
“The industry and the union will come together under a professional mediator later this winter to try to hammer out a long term contract,” said Nystrom.
“We have a chance to have a contract directly with the contractors and moving forward we’re going to be able to have that. We’re still not negotiating with MITA as an association, we’re working directly with the contractors to have an agreement in place,” McKernan stated.
Governor Snyder has ordered MDOT to carefully keep an eye on all road projects to make sure they’re completed at a high quality despite the work being done at a faster pace in the coming months.