ABC Michigan Files Lawsuit to Protect Workers, Businesses from Weaponized State Agencies

New Constitutional Questions Raised About Denying Citizens Input on Workplace Safety Issues in the Administrative Rule-Making Process

LANSING, MI- The Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan is among plaintiffs filing suit in Michigan’s Court of Claims to protect Michigan workers and safe construction sites from state departments weaponized by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent executive actions.

In the early days of the COVID-19 public health crisis, Michigan’s builders and contractors pioneered and implemented proven work-safe plans to protect the state’s more than 100,000 craft trade professionals and to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Michigan workers on these job sites have followed the rules, they’ve followed the science, they’ve taken the precautions, and they are working safely. They have returned to work safely to provide for their families and build Michigan’s future.

Unfortunately, Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders 96 and 97 include new unconstitutional power grabs that strip local authorities of their enforcement power, set impossible legal compliance standards, and threaten workers and employers with draconian penalties from state agencies. 

The unconstitutional rules would grant the Governor unilateral authority to make binding agency rules without following the rule making process, and to unilaterally establish or change penalties for perceived violations.

“The Governor’s orders weaponize the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration and other state departments, without following the rule making process, and with threats to dispatch state enforcement bureaucrats to local communities based on anonymous tips, with a presumption of guilt, and wielding massive and draconian penalties, from $7,000 fines up to 3 years in prison,” said Jeff Wiggins, state director for ABC of Michigan. This is especially disconcerting as it establishes a precedent where the Governor’s orders could lack clarity and critical industry input that is necessary to ensuring effective rules be promogulated that keep worksites safe and protect citizens.

The Governor’s orders set an impossible standard and dangerous precedent for worksites statewide, requiring businesses “guarantee that the resumption of activities does not contribute to the virus’s spread.” This order and impossible standard apply to more than simply the construction industry.

“Governor Whitmer’s approach threatens the safe jobs of Michigan workers who from the start have led the way, creating the gold standard of safe worksites during the COVID-19 public health crisis,” said Wiggins. “Michigan’s more than 100,000 craft trades professionals deserve safety and certainty from state government as they return to their jobsites. They also deserve to have a voice in the rules process. Instead, they are threatened by the arbitrary, unclear, and unconstitutional enforcement methods set to be dispatched throughout the state to intimidate good, honest workers.”

Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan is a statewide association serving Michigan's commercial and industrial construction sectors.  Founded on the merit shop philosophy to provide equal opportunities to all contractors and all workers, ABC of Michigan works to help employer members develop people, win work, and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work.