Union expands refinery strike. The United Steelworkers’ strike affecting 10% of the nation’s oil refining capacity that is entering its second week is now expanding.
One week after the Steelworkers called nearly 4,000 workers out on strike at nine of the nation’s oil refineries, leaving more than 50 other refineries on “rolling 24-hour” contract extensions, the Steelworkers upped the ante over the weekend by calling 1,000 workers out at two more refineries.
So far, as oil companies use management and other salaried personnel to operate, the strike has only idled one refinery, which was already maintenance scheduled.
According to the union’s press release:
The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that workers at BP’s Whiting, Indiana and Toledo, Ohio refineries are joining the union’s unfair labor practice strike against the oil industry that began on Feb. 1, after the companies failed to address serious concerns regarding the health and safety of workers and their communities.
The union gave BP management notice on Friday, Feb. 6 that about 1,100 members of USW Local 7-1 at the Whiting refinery and some 340 members of Local 346-3 on Saturday would join nearly 3,800 USW oil workers already on a ULP strike at nine refineries in California, Kentucky, Texas and Washington.
Other unions cross picket lines. Members of building trade unions have been instructed to report to work on Monday at Marathon Petroleum Corp’s (MPC.N) refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky, according to Reuters.
For the first week of the strike, Marathon advised workers represented by the Building Trades Unions, not to return to work. These unions represent workers who are employed by maintenance contractors at the plant, while USW workers generally operate the units. The latest letter tells members to return to work Monday, but not to replace USW workers who are still on strike.
“As a labor organization, we fully respect the USW workforce,” the business manager of the building trades said in a letter to local unions. “However to avoid any possible detrimental legal proceedings, it is advised that your local union direct your members to report to work.”
Since the strike began, oil prices have remained fairly steady.