Negotiations stall during labor dispute as Gov. Snyder talks with contractors and union
PORTAGE, Mich. —
There is no end in sight to the labor dispute that's stalled about 160 road construction projects around the state.
Governor Rick Snyder met with both sides for the first time Tuesday and discussions quickly hit a roadblock, no deal was made.
Worked stopped on the $3 million Portage construction project on South Westnedge Avenue when the labor lockout began three weeks ago.
The dispute between road contractors and heavy machine operators has halted about 160 state and local construction projects.
"It's kind of a mess, it takes a lot longer to get anywhere you need to go on Westnedge," said Samantha Blount.
The congestion from the construction has cause a number of accident inside Blount's car. In the process of potty training her young son, he's had to go when stopped in traffic.
Blount said, "You can't get home fast enough and I live literally two miles down the road and there have been times where I've been stuck on Westnedge for 30 minutes before I make it home."
About half way done, the project that began in June is already passed the expected September completion date.
Another frustrated driver, Carla Hannemann said, "It's awful I try to avoid it as much as I can."
While many drivers try navigate around the construction zone the scores of business along that stretch of Westnedge are losing customers.
The group representing contractors, Michigan Infrastructure and Transporation Association (MITA) announced plans to hire nonunion workers to get construction moving. However, the group also cautioned how challenging it is to find workers skilled in operating heavy machinery who are not unionized.
Press Secretary for Gov. Snyder, Anna Heaton said, “These projects can't be hanging out there all winter, it's dangerous for drivers and the residents of the state are customers and they need to be served in a manner that's efficient and effective before the snow flies.”
Snyder is considering activating the National Guard, not to finish stalled projects, but to move heavy machinery from critical construction projects to make way for driver in winter.
“It would be costly to go to the option so again that's plan B we hope that we don't get to that point,” Heaton said.
Drivers just want to get from point A to B without a major headache.