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Standoff continues in roadwork stoppage despite governor's intervention

A labor dispute between contractors and union equipment operators and technicians has brought road projects to a halt across the state.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
A labor dispute between contractors and union equipment operators and technicians has brought road projects to a halt across the state.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder still can’t build a bridge between a union and a construction trade association to end a roadwork stoppage across the state.

After its contract was up, the Operating Engineers Local 324 union wanted to bargain directly with individual contractors – not with a construction trade association, Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, or MITA. Snyder met with both sides, but he said they haven’t been able to come up with a long term or short term solution. He said that's challenging given that winter is around the corner.

In a press conference Tuesday, Snyder said his administration is still working out if they can legally intervene given federal labor laws.

“This is between two parties to a labor dispute but at the same time it involves our roads,” he said. “Our citizens drive on these roads. These are roads that we pay for.”

The union and contractor group have agreed to not speak to the press about ongoing negotiations at this time.

Snyder has said he is considering bringing in the National Guard engineering units to take care of important road sections before winter. But for the time being, it looks like the two sides are at an impasse.

“Our public is not going to be happy about this,” Snyder said. “I’m not happy about this. This is not a good situation.”

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Cheyna Roth
Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R