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Road Repairs Hampered By Labor Dispute

A labor dispute involving a contractors association and a road workers union is threatening the flood reconstruction effort in the Keweenaw.

Houghton City Manager Eric Waara informed the city council at their regular meeting Wednesday that work on many of the road projects has essentially ground to a halt because of the dispute.

The Detroit News reports that the issue is between the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association and Operating Engineers Local 324 which has led to a labor lockout of the union workers.

The lockout has slowed down work on some 80 percent of road projects throughout the state.

Waara said in many cases, such as MDOT’s repair of Montezuma Ave in which the city needs to move forward so it can resume work on Dodge Street, the project has been bid out and awarded but work cannot begin.

The labor dispute also affects the availability of black top for the roads so local DPW crews cannot get the material needed to fix city roads.

Because of the standoff, work projects are already at least two weeks behind and Waara says that will only get worse as contractors fall behind on all their other jobs as well.

With less than eight weeks before the construction season ends, Waara said the city may have to make some “bold moves” to get through the winter, such as using concrete to pave roads so they can be plowed in the coming months.

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