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Michigan roadbuilders OK 5-year labor deal with contractors

Michigan roadbuilders OK 5-year labor deal with contractors

Charles E. Ramirez, The Detroit News

The union representing Michigan’s road builders said Tuesday its members have ratified a five-year labor deal with a newly formed association of road contractors.

Operating Engineers Local 324 officials said the contract with the Michigan Union Contractors Group “ensures the necessary progress in repairing and replacing Michigan’s damaged infrastructure will continue unobstructed, and secures provisions the union sought when agreeing to terminate their previous contract.”

“We have secured a long-term agreement that is both fair and equitable for our members who perform road work in Michigan,” said Ken Dombrow, president of Operating Engineers 324, in a statement Tuesday.

“We will continue to provide our contractor partners with the highest skilled, most productive and safety conscious workforce to rebuild our states crumbling infrastructure.”

After its five-year contract expired in June, Local 324 said it didn’t want to negotiate a new contract with the industry group representing contractors, the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association.

The union said it wanted to bargain with individual contractors, which prompted MITA to lock out the union engineers and impose a three-week work stoppage in September.

The construction standoff prompted the shutdown or partial halt of 89 MDOT projects and 75 local projects.

Mike Nystrom, MITA’s vice president, said Tuesday that he was “very happy that contractors affected by the labor dispute now are able to get back to work and have a productive construction season.”

Asked about the relationship between MITA and OE324, he replied, “We have no relationship between MITA and the Operating Engineers 324, but we have a very strong and continuing relationship with the contractors.”

Among the new contract’s provisions, officials said, is a guarantee that subcontractors hired under the agreement adhere to the same wages, terms and conditions as the general contractor, protecting taxpayers and workers from substandard workmanship and compensation.

It also calls for graduated wage increases and increased investment in training and safety efforts.

“We are proud to join with our contracting partners in this new agreement,” said Douglas W. Stockwell, the union’s business manager.

“Together, we can now move forward doing what we do best — providing the most skilled workforce in the world to rebuild the infrastructure of Michigan, with fairness to both the employer and employees. The contract provides the stability that will assist contractors bidding for projects, and makes sure members receive fair compensation for their hard work.”

Staff Writer Shawn D. Lewis contributed.
Twitter: @CharlesERamirez