Governor Snyder and MITA renege on agreement to get workers back on the job
Gov. Rick Snyder Administration Offered and then Reneged on Handshake Agreement To Get Road Construction Moving, Workers Back on the Job
DETROIT –– Operating Engineers 324 today called for a direct meeting with Governor Rick Snyder to put an end to the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA)’s involuntary layoff of road builders across the state.
OE 324 members have not had a contract since June, but continued to work on the state’s many projects throughout the summer. MITA laid them off on September 4, endangering hundreds of projects across Michigan during the last weeks of construction season. Operating Engineers 324 requested a meeting with the Governor and were denied.
This week, while Governor Snyder is in China, union officials met with the Governor’s staff to resolve the layoffs and get work going again. The Governor’s office presented OE 324 with a proposal that would get road work restarted, put workers back on the job and have the Governor’s office oversee mediation between the union and contractors. According to the governor’s team, MITA and their contractors would sign on to the plan. OE324 agreed to the plan the Governor’s office was forcing, and officials left with a handshake agreement in place.
However, MITA refused the agreement after the meeting. The Governor’s office then reneged on the agreement and are now demanding a host of MITA-imposed conditions. These conditions include OE 324 agreeing that contractors can continue to give jobs for highly trained road builders away to less-skilled, less-qualified workers, including those brought in from other states. They also want OE324 to accept fringe benefit payments effective immediately, even though that would be a clear violation of federal law.
“Operating Engineers 324 has bent over backwards during this entire process to make sure that critical road projects are completed without pain and inconvenience for Michigan drivers. Our road builders showed up every day to do their job, even without a contract since June,” said Operating Engineers 324 President Ken Dombrow. “We are deeply disappointed that MITA is now torpedoing our agreement with the Gov. Rick Snyder administration that would have brought workers and contractors together. The only fair way to resolve this dispute is for OE 324 leaders to meet with the governor immediately so that we can get back to work fixing the roads.”
MITA’s involuntary layoff has impacted major projects in Michigan, including Interstate 75 bridge repairs, road and bridge reconstruction on I-96 and road reconstruction and maintenance on I-696.
“Both MITA and the State of Michigan have the ability to get the projects started again immediately. MITA contractors instituted the layoffs, and can end them at any time,” said Operating Engineers 324 Communications Director Dan McKernan. “The State, through MDOT, can levy fines and penalties to the contractors for stopping the work. The State of Michigan needs to protect the drivers and taxpayers of the state and levy these penalties immediately.”
“Road construction projects could be back on track, workers back on the job and contractors avoid hefty fines if Gov. Snyder chooses to honor his administration’s mediation proposal. But if MITA gets its way, motorists will pay in the long-term with lengthy delays and shoddy construction by unskilled workers that will have to be redone. We are disappointed in the Governor’s team, and hope that Gov. Snyder himself shares our goals. We are requesting to meet with him right away to get his proposal back on the table,” said Douglas Stockwell, Operating Engineers 324 Business Manager and General Vice-President.