WIN News Report: Steelworkers Refinery Strike Is About Safe Staffing

By Doug Cunningham, courtesy of Workers Independent News

The United Steel Workers say the oil refinery strike at nine facilities in Texas, California and Kentucky is about safe staffing levels and wages are not the primary focus. Tom Conway is a Vice-President with USW International.

“This strike is about safe staffing levels inside the refineries and staffing levels of our maintenance workforces and having safe and reliable staffing in the refineries. And the situation that exists today just has become unacceptable," said Conway. "We have people who are working twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen continuous days without a day off on 12 hour shifts. And people are stressed with an amazing amount of overtime and fatigues and sleep deprivation. It’s dangerous. It’s a dangerous way to run an operation like a fuel refinery.”

Conway says the USW didn’t want the strike and is ready to immediately return to the bargaining table.

“We didn’t seek this strike. We’re not lookin’ for it. But we need problems solved. And just an intransigent attitude from them isn’t gonna get us there. It;s not going to solve the problem. So hopefully they look at these in a genuine way and come back and are willing to sit with us and have an honest discussion about how do we make sure we have a well-trained adequate workforce. They don’t seem to us to be difficult discussions that a management should be so unwilling to have with its workforce.”

The United Steel Workers represent workers at 65 U.S. oil refineries that produce about 64 percent of country’s refined oil. The USW was in negotiations with Shell Oil as part of a national pattern bargaining process when Shell walked away from the labor talks triggering the strike.

In the second part of the news report, Labor Secretary Perez talks about how the 2014 Union Report Underscores The Value Of Unions.

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