Recently, dozens of road repair projects were halted in Michigan when union contractors announced a lockout of unionized heavy equipment operators and technicians. The contract between Operating Engineers Local 324 and the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) expired on June 1st of 2018. Since then, the two sides have not been able to come to an agreement on the terms of a new contract.
Union Labor Dispute
This labor dispute in Michigan has completely halted road repair projects and most experts believe that it’s imperative for both sides to come to an agreement soon. The reason? The roads in Michigan are terrible and winter is coming.
Michigan House Speaker Tom Leonard, who is running for attorney general, urged both sides to put their feelings aside and work toward a resolution. He says that he believes, that the road work stoppages could threaten the state’s economic future.
As with all states in the northern US where a lot of snow and ice fall during winter, all roads take a beating. The freezing temperatures damage asphalt, along with constant moisture on and under roadways. The base of the road begins to gradually soften. It doesn’t take much for a pothole to form. Once it does, cars and trucks running over it thousands of times a day can quickly transform a small pothole into a monster of a threat to drivers.
Potholes Damage Vehicles
Motorists often don’t see potholes before it’s too late. Damage can be as simple as wheel misalignment or as expensive as ruining a tire. Below are a few damages that can be caused by running over a pothole:
- Tire puncture or damage
- Wheel rim damage
- Suspension damage, including broken components
- Steering system misalignment
- Premature wear on shocks and struts
- Exhaust system damage
- Engine damage
If you hit a good-sized pothole, you could be out hundreds of dollars for repairs. In fact, the national average is $300 per accident.
Could Road Repair Problems Damage Michigan’s Economy?
In a recent news release, Tom Leonard warned, “This work stoppage is simply unacceptable. The negotiation tactics being acted out are hurting Michigan’s progress and both sides sitting at the table need to figure this out as soon as possible and get back to work.”
Leonard has worked with the legislature to secure $175million for road repairs in Michigan but said in that same news release that he fears the cement will just sit around in warehouses gathering dust.
Leonard had this one final message for union workers and MITA, “Time is short — let’s get these potholes filled now.”