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Union lockout halts major Michigan road projects

Raymond. D. Woods, Jr.

Some important road projects across the state - including I-696 and I-75 - are on hold because of a lockout of unionized heavy equipment operators and technicians, represented by Operating Engineers Local 324.

The lockout was called for on Tuesday by the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA), which is a statewide construction trade association of more than 500 Michigan contractors that build roads, bridges and utilities.

The lockout comes amid stalled labor contract negotiations between MITA and Local 324.

According to Dan McKernan, spokesperson for Local 324, the exact number of workers affected is not known, but is in the hundreds, and could be as many as 2,000. 

"The impact of the lockout is pretty widespread," said Michael Nystrom, executive vice president of MITA. "Hundreds of projects across the state are being impacted."

Neither McKernan nor Nystrom could predict when the labor dispute might be resolved.

According to Jeff Cranson, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, the road contracts call for MDOT to grant extensions in the event of labor disputes.

Cranson said MDOT's concerned about possible delays in project completions. 

"Nobody wants that," said Cranson.

McKernan and Nystrom were interviewed today on Stateside. You can listen to that interview below.