Washtenaw Suspends CUB Agreements

At its Sept. 21, 2011 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners unanimously gave final approval to suspend the county’s use of Construction Unity Board (CUB) agreements, pending the outcome of litigation that’s challenging the validity of the state’s Public Act 98.

CUB agreements are negotiated between local trade unions and contractors, and require that contractors who sign the agreement abide by terms of collective bargaining agreements for the duration of the construction project. In return, the trade unions agree that they will not strike, engage in work slow-downs, set up separate work entrances at the job site or take any other adverse action against the contractor.

However, Act 98 of 2011 – which became effective July 19, 2011 – prohibits municipalities from including as a requirement in a construction contract anything that would either require or prohibit contractors from entering into agreements with collective bargaining organizations. The act also prohibits discrimination against contractors based on willingness or non-willingness to enter into such agreements.

The law is being challenged in federal court by the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO and the Genesee, Lapeer, Shiawassee Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO. They are seeking to rule the law invalid, alleging that it is pre-empted by the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution and the National Labor Relations Act.

At the board’s Sept. 7 meeting, when commissioners took initial action on this issue, Yousef Rabhi had proposed two amendments to the resolution: (1) to assert the effectiveness of CUB agreements in ensuring a fair and cooperative workplace; and (2) to affirm that the county would reinstate CUB agreements when it becomes possible to do so. Those amendments had been approved on an 8-2 vote, with dissent from Dan Smith and Alicia Ping.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]