Workers Forced to Strike After Oil Companies Refuse to Discuss Safety Issues

PITTSBURGH- Tens of thousands of Steelworkers were forced to strike due to the oil industry’s obstinacy and its refusal to discuss worker safety issues.


Workers walked out of refineries in Houston, Texas City and Deer Park, Texas, Anacortes, Washington. And Martinez and Carson, California. Although United Steel Workers (USW) bargained with Shell, workers had to strike at other refineries to show that all of oil’s “Seven Sisters” were involved.


USW reported that at other refineries, oil workers worked under rolling 24-hour contract extensions. USW represents 64 percent of U.S. refinery workers.


“Oil workers labor in a very dangerous environment, with much of it beyond their control, and are subject to hazardous chemicals and other cancer-causing substances,” says USW Vice President Gary Beevers, who leads oil and chemical workers’ sectors and the bargaining team.


In addition to cutting the workers’ wages, the highly profitable companies refuse to spend money to make their workers safe.


Although Shell made five contract offers, they did not cover safety issues, so USW members rejected all of them.


“This work stoppage is about onerous overtime, unsafe staffing levels, dangerous conditions the industry continues to ignore, the daily fires, emissions, leaks and explosions that threaten local communities without the industry doing much about it,” Beavers explained.


These oil talks are also important for the whole nation. The U.S. has now overtaken Saudi Arabai as the world’s largest oil producer and U.S. reliance on imports as a percentage of total oil use has declined to its lowest point in decades.


“These companies do not want to work with us to improve the workplace and safety at oil refineries and facilities,” said USW Vice President of Administration Tom Conway. “This industry is the richest in the world and can afford to make the changes we offered,” he stated.


Source: PAI