January 29, 2012 at 2:49 pm #1958
USW tells U.S. refinery workers to prepare for strike
By Erwin Seba | Reuters 45 mins ago…
HOUSTON (Reuters) – The United Steelworkers union told U.S. refinery workers to prepare to offer safe and orderly refinery shutdowns prior to a strike that could begin as early as 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, sources familiar with the union’s preparations said on Sunday.
Most refiners are expected to reject the shutdown offer and begin assigning temporary replacement workers to operate refinery units if USW-represented workers walk off their jobs.
Talks between the union and oil company representatives for a new three-year national contract were continuing on Sunday.
The notice to prepare for a strike does not mean a work stoppage will take place, the sources said.
USW spokeswoman Lynne Hancock declined to discuss the message. “We don’t negotiate in the media,” Hancock said.
Lead refiner negotiator Shell Oil Co said on Sunday morning that it was optimistic about the talks.
“Shell is optimistic that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be negotiated with the USW,” said Shell spokeswoman Emily Oberton.
About six percent of U.S. refining capacity was expected to shut down when workers walk off their jobs, sources familiar with refiners’ plans have said. Another five percent is expected to shut if a strike lasts up to three months.
The last nationwide strike by refinery workers was in 1980 and lasted three months.
The Steelworkers represent workers at refineries accounting for almost two-thirds of national refining capacity. Because not all contracts between local unions and refiners expire on February 1, only about a third of U.S. capacity would be immediately affected by a strike, if one takes place.
Most refiners plan to continue operating their refineries using salaried employees trained to operate production units.
The shutdown preparation notice comes one day after the union said a strike at one or more locations was becoming more likely due to “the lack of a more substantive response from the industry” after nearly two weeks of talks.
One version of the shutdown preparation message obtained by the Galveston County Daily News newspaper and posted on its Website read, “all locations should be prepared to make arrangements with your respective employers to offer a safe and orderly shutdown of your facility if and when you are instructed to do so.”
Messages like the warning on Saturday and the shutdown preparation notice have not been sent out in the previous three rounds of negotiations with oil companies for a contract.
(Editing by Bernard Orr)
January 29, 2012 at 3:14 pm #4731
Here is update on USW Contract Negotiations & Strike Potential.
I think this is Bad Idea going on at Bad Time with lot potential Bad Outcomes…..
The tough US economics, lack of back up/part-time jobs and lot refineries sitting on edge of being shutdown isnt good time USW flex muscles its members cannot afford.
The media always likes to quote “Gross Margins” Refiners are making but the only thing that counts is Net margins (like your paycheck Gross before taxes & w/holds & Net whats left to live on). None of the US Major Oil Companies even qualify to be in Forbes Top 100 companies based on Net Margins (takes +30% net profit) with only a 10-14% average.
There are several refineries already down due bad economics & several on list for permenant shutdown or conversion to terminals that arent likely to get restart when strikers return.
I got work last nationwide strike in 1980’s at both Billings and Ponca refineries and it was grueling stretch for +4months (Billings was out before nationwide was called) but management likes the strikes because they have smaller workforce (with salary desk-riders doing labor of hourly) on 2 shifts @ 12 hr instead 3shifts @ 8hrs, and they get try out lot operational gimicks. The salary guys lose on strike also because incremental overtime gets killed by extra taxes and end up working for walmart wages on the net. So its bad all around …….. except getting appreciation for what the operational folks have to do everyday & idea what it is like on some crazy decisions that come down from management.
It is your union folks need tell them this isnt the 3 yr period to push hard for gains that get ~ eleminated by offwork time & risk potential of getting go back. The 2015 contract negotiating period is gong put LOT more cards in your hands and be past lot current risk (plus buy ones that will go down few more months or years between).
January 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm #4728
tired of communism and socialist ideals tearing down what makes America strong. OSHA, EPA, etc should replace the self-centered demands of the union ideals. High School Graduates that make $50 buck an hour and demand more brought Detriot to it’s knees – patronizing the Unions will bring our Nation closer to the same!
January 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm #4727
If you think that Government driven OSHA & EPA is going to look out more for the American worker than Unions then you need to take your pills and get some rest.
The government organizations dont look out for anyone that doesnt have large enough group to make them (or enough money to buy them). Nanny State is more instrument of Socialism & Communism than Labor Unions ever were……
While the original Unions spawned by Industrial unions in both UK & US did have certain amount of Marxism driving them (more so UK than US) – it didnt survive in US when mfg moved out North (Chicago/Detroit/ect) and into South. In fact it was the dual problems of race (not accepting black workers) and consertaive & individuality of workers in southern states resulted in big drop of union workers from 1/3 workforce down to todays 13-15% or less at periods. You only have read about conditions at beginning of Unions and before WWII to know how much unions helped free all of us from growing power of big companies: 12-14 hour shifts at starvation wages with children working & dying in coal mines/railroads/ect due unsafe working conditions, beside thier parents instead of getting an education. Unions forced Government to fix the problems not the other way around my friend.
An old Labor song goes:
We mean to make things over;
We’re tired of toil for naught
. . . Eight hours for work, eight hours
For rest, eight ours for what we will.
Today’s HS Grad needs close to $50/hr (before taxes of course) as blue collar worker to live a life in US without welfare given the value of todays dollar compared to one in 1980’s when unions began to shrink in power …… not because thier Union members brought Detroit to its knees with thier demands but because the Government let Foreign companies dump products in our back door below cost and then let them open US plants in the South where Unions had made lot bad first moves in organizing.
This is continuing today – where Efficient more savy and productive US workers cannot compete with companies that dont have to invest in thier plants for emissions, and only pay 1/4 fuel cost to deliver & ship out products or worry using child labor or about unsafe working conditions or host of other reasons that our Governmet lets these countries like China and India get away with despite WTO member rules.
I give you that we gave up on unions and that they gave up on us and are but shadow of “Knights of Labor, United Steel & Tin workers, AFL and others that led all of us hourly and salary workers alike out of hell that first stages of industrial union put workers …….. but it isn’t over yet/Fat lady has sung yet/ect.
If your interested here are couple sites that have good background on Unions history & its loss power:
Ideology in History Labor Unions @ http://www.shmoop.com/history-labor-unions/ideology.html
Decline Unions Power @ http://economics.about.com/od/laborinamerica/a/union_decline.htm
The End of Labor Unions America (& decline Middle Class) @ http://www.theboldpursuit.com/jwts-journal/2011/1/24/the-end-of-labor-unions-in-america.html
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