Construction Union Bosses Agree To 10-Year Wage Freezes To Keep Dues Flowing To Union Contractors

Michigan is quickly becoming known as the Land of Union Mischief following last year’s passage of a state law making certain kinds of union contracts illegal.


Since Michigan passed its controversial Right-to-Work law late last year, which makes it unlawful for unions to require workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, many unions have been able to skirt the law by negotiating new long-term contracts before the new law actually took effect on March 28.

In Michigan’s unionized construction industry, construction union bosses have been scrambling to negotiate new (or extended) long-term contracts that avoid the state’s new Right-to-Work law. In several cases, these contracts extend for as many as ten years–to 2023. More shockingly, in several cases, union bosses have agree to freeze their members’ wages in exchange for continued union dues.

Union Fat Cat

For example, in Saginaw, Michigan, Laborers’ union bosses have agreed to a ten-year contract with wage freezes for union members for all ten years. While there is a minimal increase going toward the unions’ pension and benefit funds, union members will not see wage increases–however, union bosses do get to continue to collect dues from members.

Laborers’ Local 1098-Saginaw: A ten (10) year settlement was reached on a new CBA agreement which expires on June 30, 2023. On each CBA anniversary date, there is a one and one-half percent (1½%) increase of the previous year’s base wage only being distributed to the Pension Fund first and the Health Care Fund second. The settlement also provides for overtime language change to overtime over 10 hours per day and/or 40 hours per week paid at time-and-one-half (1½%), Monday through Friday, with Saturday paid at time and one-half when not used for a make-up day. New Market Initiative (NMI) was also adopted…. [Emphasis added.]

  • Note: A New Market Initiative (also called ‘Job Targeting‘) is a term that applies to unions giving a portion of union members’ dues (or fees) to unionized contractors to subsidize union wages and thereby lower unionized contractors’ bidding rates in order to compete with union-free contractors.

As of February, the unemployment rate in the construction industry is about twice the national average.

Although unions are notoriously uncompetitive in the construction industry and union bosses negotiating wage freezes may make some sense in a bad economy, ten years’ worth of wage freezes seems extraordinarily long.

At least is seems long until one realizes that Michigan union bosses got what they want out of the contracts–the ability to collect union dues in a Right-to-Work state for another ten years and to use a portion of those dues to subsidize union contractors.

Michigan Unionized Contractors Negotiations Update

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