Two sides in road dispute meet with governor Tuesday

Frank Donnelly
The Detroit News
Governor Rick Snyder speaks at the Michigan Science Center in this February 22, 2018 file photo. He is scheduled to speak Sept. 25 with the two sides in a labor dispute that halted road projects across Michigan.

The two sides in a labor dispute that halted road projects across Michigan will meet with Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday morning.

The Operating Engineers Local 324 and the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) agreed to the sit-down after Snyder threatened to use the National Guard to work on the roads.

The two sides will meet with Snyder and his staff at the governor's office, said Mike Nystrom, vice president of MITA.

"We look forward to the meeting tomorrow," Nystrom said Monday. "There were no new developments today."

Work on the projects, including the heavily traveled westbound lanes of I-696 in Macomb County, stopped Sept. 4 after a contract dispute.

After its five-year contract expired in June, Local 324 said it didn't want to negotiate a new contract with MITA, an industry group representing contractors. The union said it wanted to bargain with individual contractors.

MITA then imposed a work stoppage on Sept. 4.

The dispute has partially or fully shut down 89 Michigan Department of Transportation projects and 72 local projects.

The governor's office said time was of the essence because the roads needed to be finished before winter, when it becomes too cold to pour concrete.

The I-696 project, for example, still needs two-and-a-half more months of work before it will be completed, said state officials.

Last week, Snyder raised the possibility of using the National Guard to perform some of the work.

Nystrom said the National Guard told him it has 1,300 members who are capable of operating heavy equipment.