Strike at asphalt plant shouldn't affect road construction

Rieth-Riley said that they have been in contract negotiations with Operating Engineers Local 324 for over a year and have not been able to reach a successor agreement. (Source WILX)
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LANSING, MI (WILX) - A strike is currently underway at the Rieth-Riley asphalt plant in Lansing, located on S. Creyts Road, and 12 other sites around the state..

Dan McKernan, the spokesperson for Operating Engineers Local 324 told NEWS 10 that workers walked off at midnight on July 31.

They are claiming there are unfair labor practices happening at the plant as well as working without a contract for the last 14 months.

He says there are about 90 projects underway right now for MDOT and these workers are on road crews as heavy machine operators and asphalt production.

McKernan added that Rieth-Riley is one contractor of many for MDOT, He says that every contractor worked out a deal with the union except for Rieth-Riley.

If you're worried about more construction projects being halted, McKernan says that he doesn't think the strike will impact the projects.

Rieth-Riley has sent out a release about the strike. You can read it here .

They confirm that the strike started at midnight and that the union workers are citing unfair labor practices and a lack of a contract.

However, Rieth-Riley says that they are operating on a contract. "By virtue of their 9a relationship with Operating Engineers Local 324, Rieth-Riley and their operating engineer employees have had and still enjoy most of the terms of their previous contract. Under a 9a relationship, most of the terms, including the wages and fringes, of the prior agreement continue in full force until a successor agreement is negotiated."

They added that they have been in contract negotiations with Operating Engineers Local 324 for over a year and have not been able to reach a successor agreement.

“We have gone back to the table time and time again and have offered up excellent employee compensation plans and the Union has refused to attempt to negotiate a fair deal”, said Keith Rose, President of Rieth-Riley Construction Co., Inc.

The company claims that the union refused to negotiate with the highway construction industry, and that Rieth-Riley actually gave employees a raise that the union then complained about. They say the union filed an unfair labor charge against Rieth-Riley stating that they were paying their operating engineer employees more money.

Rieth-Riley says that the claims have not been decided upon by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

A hearing before the board is scheduled for October.

Rieth-Riley says that the work stoppage is affecting as many as hundreds of projects across Michigan.

They also claim that the union wants taxpayers to pay a higher price to get the roads fixed.

"Rieth-Riley has continued to perform work, pay its employees as promised and negotiate in good faith with the Union for the benefit of both its employees and its customers," the company stated in a release. "There simply is no good reason for the Union to stop work. Michigan’s roads and bridges are crumbling and at the very prime of the construction season, projects are now being delayed unnecessarily."

The union spokesman McKernan says Rieth-Riley's claims about the union are "nonsense."

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