TRAVERSE CITY — Representatives from Operating Engineers Local 324 and Rieth-Riley Construction Co. met again at the bargaining table Monday. But no bargain emerged.
“There’s still a strike,” Rieth-Riley spokesman Chad Loney said last week.
The situation didn’t change Monday.
“At least we met,” Local 324 spokesman Dan McKernan said after Monday’s meeting. “There were no conclusions. We did meet. We did not reach a new contract.”
Approximately 200 heavy-equipment operators across Michigan are affected, including about 20 in Traverse City. The strike began July 31.
At the heart of the strike action is a four-week lockout in September 2018 that brought 160 Michigan road projects to a halt.
Work resumed last fall after Operating Engineers Local 324 inked a deal with the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association. Almost all the approximately 40 companies involved in the 2018 lockout eventually agreed on contracts with their employees
But Rieth-Riley and one other company, Michigan Paving & Materials Co., haven’t.
McKernan Monday said that the two company’s situations — and the status of negotiations — are different, and the union decided to strike only against Rieth-Riley.
Rieth-Riley is a major contractor for the Michigan Department of Transportation. The company supplies aggregate and asphalt to other road construction companies.
A Monday release from Rieth-Riley stated the company continues to negotiate in good faith.
Loney said via phone that about half the company’s asphalt plants are back up and running with sufficient workforce despite the strike.
“Temporarily it slowed us down,” Loney said. “We’ve been at the bargaining table several times, and offered packages that were more than fair.”
A Rieth-Riley release states that a main point of disagreement is a clause in the contract offered by the union that deals with subcontractors.
McKernan said Monday that the clause requires sub-contracted employees to receive pay and benefits on par with those required in the contract for union employees.
Rieth-Riley maintains that the clause “simply will not work in the mid and west Michigan markets.”