Ann Arbor Flips Back on CUB Agreements

At least temporarily reversing an earlier action, the Ann Arbor city council voted at its July 16, 2012 meeting to suspend the use of construction unity board (CUB) agreements for contracts over $25,000. The move came after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed Public Act 238 of 2012 into law on June 29. The law amends the Michigan Fair and Open Competition Act.

The council’s previous action was taken just a month earlier on June 4, 2012, and had restored the use of such CUB agreements. The July 16 suspension allows for the resolution using the CUB agreements to be restored administratively, pending possible court rulings.

An alternating series of positions by the city of Ann Arbor began with the adoption by the city council of the use of CUB agreements at its Nov. 16, 2009 meeting. The resolution required that contractors and subcontractors execute such agreement with the Washtenaw County Skilled Building Trades Council as a condition of award for all city construction contracts.

But last year, the Michigan legislature passed Act 98 of 2011, which prohibited municipalities from signing construction contracts in which contractors were required make an agreement with a collective bargaining organization.

So on Aug. 15, 2011, in response to the state law, the city council rescinded that requirement. However, the U.S. District Court subsequently found Act 98 to be unenforceable, based on the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution and the National Labor Relations Act. So at its June 4, 2012 meeting, the city council restored the use of CUB agreements. The lone voice of dissent at that meeting was Jane Lumm (Ward 2), who opposed the resolution on philosophical and practical grounds. She pointed to similar pending legislation (Act 238) that might be enacted.

And the pending legislation was, in fact, passed and signed into law, which led to the city council’s action on July 16 again to suspend the use of CUB agreements.

The staff memo accompanying the resolution states that the suspension of CUB agreements does not affect the city’s living wage ordinance. Not discussed in the memo is how a Michigan Supreme Court order from April 7, 2010 might affect the city’s living wage ordinance. The order affirmed an unpublished court of appeals opinion that found a Detroit living wage law to be unenforceable.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]