Westnedge Ave. Construction Project In Portage Resumes Despite Labor Dispute
Portage officials say that a road construction project on a busy stretch of Westnedge Avenue has resumed. The work between Romence Road and Mall Drive had been halted due to an ongoing labor contract dispute that had shut down the road project there as well as over 150 similar projects across Michigan. The work will include sectional road closures Thursday, and final paving will being Friday. Portage city officials issued a statement Wednesday thanking the public and business owners in the construction area for their patience during the extended delay. The project should be completed during the first week of October.
Earlier this week, Governor Rick Snyder expressed frustration after failing to end what he called an unprecedented labor impasse between road contractors and a union of heavy equipment operators that is disrupting the construction projects. About 50 contractors exercised what they call a "defensive lockout" of between 1,000 and 2,000 unionized workers three weeks ago, more than three months after the expiration of their contract. The union calls it an "involuntary layoff." Snyder, who is worried that the dispute will keep projects from being completed by the winter, said he likely will next warn both sides of unspecified consequences due to their "failure to make progress." It is unclear what steps he may take, though one option considered is activating the Michigan National Guard.