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Oil Workers and Refineries to Resume Negotiations

Written by Sandy Williams

The USW reported that U.S. refinery negotiations will resume on March 4. Talks stalled on Feb 20 prompting the USW to enlarge the strike, adding three refineries co-owned by Shell Oil to the walkout. Currently 6,550 workers are now on strike at 15 plants.

“We can confirm that Shell and USW have agreed to speak next Wednesday as both parties continue efforts to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement,” said Shell spokesman Ray Fisher. “No further details are available.”

All refineries, except Tesoro Corp in California, have maintained operations at near normal levels using temporary workers. Tesoro was scheduled for a partial maintenance shutdown before the strike so the company decided to close the entire refinery until the overhaul could be completed.

The USW refinery issues include health and safety, fatigue, inadequate staffing levels and the use of non-union contractors for daily maintenance jobs.

In a letter to union members last week the USW highlighted the need for safer working conditions for refinery workers, noting that in recent years 27 oil workers were killed on the job.

A USW website posting, This is What We’re Fight For, commented, “At the bargaining table, in our communities, and on the picket lines we are fighting for safe refineries, for fair contracts and to make sure that at the end of the shift we are able to come home to our families the same way we left.”

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