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UAW president King: Union sitting out bridge vote

October 15, 2012 • Business


This July 17, 2012 photo shows traffic moving across the Ambassador Bridge over the Detroit River in Detroit. United Auto Workers President Bob King says his union will remain neutral on Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun’s ballot proposal to require a public vote to build a competing international crossing. (AP Photo/ Detroit Free Press, Andre J. Jackson)

DETROIT (AP) — United Auto Workers President Bob King says his union will remain neutral on Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun’s ballot proposal to require a public vote to build a competing international crossing.

“The UAW is going to maintain not taking a position,” the UAW leader told the Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/RuHxZw . “We didn’t really want to put time and energy into taking a position on that.”

King refused to comment on reports the UAW and Moroun have met about a possible deal for union backing for the bridge-blocking proposal on the Nov. 6 Michigan ballot.

Gov. Rick Snyder supports plans for a Canadian-financed bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Moroun proposes adding a span to his own bridge.

Snyder spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher said she hoped King’s statement means the union has backed off a possible deal with Moroun. The UAW is seeking support for a ballot issue that would enshrine collective bargaining rights in the Michigan Constitution.

“That’s good news if they have not come up with some type of backroom deal in exchange for funds from the Moroun family,” Lasher said. “More remains to be seen exactly how this will play out. I think the way the bridge company was acting, there’s still something possibly there.”

Asked about possible Moroun backing for the labor unions’ campaign for the collective bargaining plan, Proposal 2, King said he had not received any direct offer of financial aid.

“If you are asking if (Moroun) has made a commitment to me to put money in? No,” King said.

The bridge issue is known as Proposal 6 and would change the state Constitution to require approval by a majority of Michigan voters on any new international commuter bridges or tunnels before the state can spend money on the projects.

Snyder and Canadian leaders reached a deal in June on a new government bridge. Snyder has said that under the agreement Michigan isn’t on the hook for any of the bridge costs, which would be repaid to Canada through tolls collected on the Canadian side.

Moroun and his Detroit International Bridge Co. say a new government bridge will cost taxpayers down the road. They were behind a petition drive that collected more than 600,000 signatures to put Proposal 6 on the November ballot. More than $1 million also was spent on ads blasting the proposed bridge that would link southwest Detroit to Windsor.

King said the UAW might be willing to back Snyder’s favored international bridge if there were provisions for community involvement in planning it and commitments to employ union workers in building and operating the bridge.

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