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  • By Lisa Brody

Two road projects stopped due to labor dispute

While no one loves road construction, having road construction projects stopped due to labor issues is even worse, which is what is currently happening around the metro Detroit area, including two Bloomfield Township projects, due to the lockout of operating engineer members by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA), which took effect Tuesday, September 4, before the union could strike.

Numerous projects are impacted by the lockout, including the Telegraph Road repair project, which was supposed to begin Wednesday, September 5; and a Lincoln Road repaving project which was to begin utilizing tri-party funds.

According to Bloomfield Township Engineer Olivia Olsztyn-Budry, “The union that represents the workers in the pavement industry has decided to strike. Due to the strike, Ajax is shutting down the tri-party program. At this time, this strike does not affect the Chestnut Run North SAD (special assessment district), as the contractor Pro-line is not a union employer. It is undetermined if the strike will affect suppliers to Pro-line. As of now, they are working, and Dolan, the sub-contractor for the concrete curb, will start tomorrow (Wednesday, September 5).”

The Telegraph Road repairs had been planned by for three segments in Bloomfield Township. The first segment, which had been scheduled to take place from early September through mid-October, is southbound Telegraph from Orchard Lake Road to Square Lake Road. The second segment, which had been planned for mid-October to late November, is both north and southbound Telegraph from Long Lake Road to Square Lake Road; and the third segment, planned for mid-September through mid-October, is both north and southbound Telegraph approaching the Maple intersection.

The resurfacing project was to include various types of repairs, including milling two-inches of concrete and replacing it with asphalt; concrete pavement repairs; drainage structure repairs; and pavement markings. There is no current timeline for the project.

In a letter to Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Road Commission of Oakland County (RCOC), Bryant Moorman, project manager at Ajax Paving Industries, stated that the collective bargaining contract between the International Union of Operating Engineers (OE) and MITA had expired, and “Although the industry (MITA) has made several attempts to initiate negotiations with OE, the union has refused to meet and has since initiated a strike against a member MITA contractor. Therefore, a lockout of all OE 324 members was initiated on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, at 7 a.m.”

Moorman wrote that due to the possibility the labor dispute may extend for an unknown period of time, they formally submitted a notice of intent to extend the length of time for their contracts and additional compensation “that are the result of this labor dispute shutdown (ie suspension of work).”

Kirk Steudle, director of MDOT, responded that he was in receipt of their letter, and would evaluate them “on a project-level basis according to the terms of each contract.”

Steudle also wrote, “MDOT is concerned about the impacts of the impending lockout and remains committed to keeping projects advancing as much as possible during any lockout period...MDOT looks forward to a quick resolve of this situation.”

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