The defensive lockout of Operating Engineers, Local 324 (OE 324) employees that was initiated by several MITA contractors has now been in effect for over a week. As of the posted date of this bulletin, there have been numerous developments and activities; however, there has been no communication from OE 324, and thus, there has been no change to the situation.
In its lockout notice to OE 324, MITA informed the union that the lockout will end when the union ratifies the industry-proposed contract (see attached economic breakdown)(see attached economic breakdown), and also notified them that the industry is available for talks at any time.
MITA staff continues to field several questions from the media about the situation, working hard to correct the many pieces of false information being disseminated by the union about the association, the contractors and the lockout.
As mentioned above, there are also several other efforts in motion; however, many of these are behind the scenes legal challenges that must stay confidential.
Although the messaging on this situation is complicated and oftentimes seems negative, in general the overall reporting has been fair and balanced from an industry (MITA) perspective.
Addressing Unemployment Claims for OE 324 Employees
OE 324 continues to assert, inappropriately, to its members that this is an “involuntary layoff” rather than a defensive lockout. If you receive an unemployment claim for an OE 324 employee, contest it in writing with the following language:
“(EMPLOYEE FULL NAME) is disqualified because the unemployment is the result of a labor dispute (see attached).”
The reference above to “(see attached)” is your official Notice to Employees on your own company letterhead (or whatever was handed out/sent to employees regarding the lockout by your company). Click here for a sample Notice to Employee letter.
How To Handle August Fringes
It is suggested that all companies continue to send in their monthly fringe benefit contributions to the OE 324 Fringe Funds, regardless of if the Fringe Fund has returned previous checks.
Davis-Bacon/Certified Payroll Compliance
Many companies have received 30-day non-compliance letters regarding Davis-Bacon certified payroll. MITA continues to work diligently on options that will be acceptable to MDOT and the USDOL.
PLEASE BE PATIENT! At this time, it is suggested that no contractor immediately deposit funds into a qualified plan, such as a 401(k), until this official guidance is determined. All options are being considered at the highest levels and a final, clear determination of guidance will be sent out to the industry very shortly.
For all hours worked by OE 324 employees on private projects (those not covered by Davis-Bacon regulations), it is completely acceptable to deposit those fringe contributions into a segregated escrow account until this labor dispute is resolved.
Don’t Hesitate To Reach Out
MITA sincerely hopes that the lockout will end as soon as possible. Updates will continue to be provided to the membership on a regular basis.
As always, if you have specific questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President/Secretary at email@example.com or at 517-896-1493.