The Oil Worker, Issue 33

Share The OilWorker with your members by downloading the PDF or sharing the link!

From the Chair

I hope everyone had an exciting holiday season and time to spend with family and friends.  Now it is back to business as we prepare for the year ahead and the opportunities it will bring.

I encourage the councils to continue building/strengthening ties among the locals.  Our power is in our strength as a united front. 

Remember to inform my office of any changes the companies propose so we can help coordinate responses if necessary.  Also, any proposed changes in benefits need to be forwarded so we can run comparisons and evaluate them.  Even if it seems mundane, we have the right to bargain either the change or the effects of the change.  We cannot respond to company actions when no one tells us about them.

We continue to work with the BP council and ChevronPhillips groups on benefit changes and the ExxonMobil council on synthetic drug testing. 

We finished the Shell bargaining on eliminating retiree healthcare, and successfully extended the expiration date to include all new hires through the end of 2016.  I want to thank council coordinator John Link, the staff reps, Local officers along with our benefit specialists Chad Apaliski and Katy Horigan for all the hours and hard work they put into this project.  Efforts by the locals and members to stay united and stick with our objective enabled us to make a difference.  Thank you all.

We will have a conference call with the NOBP policy committee and alternates at the end of January.  This is a way for the committee and me to stay in touch and keep each other up to speed as to what is happening in the regions. 2019 is just around the corner and we want to start collecting issues of concern that will need to be discussed, both at the local table as well as nationally.

I attended the Valero council meeting in December and as always find the council meetings very informative and useful. 

For those of you attending the International Convention in April, be sure to check if your council is meeting during then and attend.  As we get closer to convention time, you can check with your local officers or Julie Lidstone,, to see if, when and where your council is meeting. 

Larry Burchfield, NOBP policy committee member representing Region E, accepted a staff position with District 13.  Clay Bonin will move from the alternate position to fill the vacancy.  We wish Larry success with his new position, and extend our thanks for the years he served on the policy committee.  


Your National Oil Bargaining Policy Committee Members:

Steve Bohney, Region A representative

Local 7-1 steward Steve Bohney is the Region A representative on the National Oil Bargaining Program (NOBP) Oil Policy Committee. Region A covers Districts 1, 2 and 7.
A metals mechanic (pipefitter/boilermaker) at BP’s Whiting, Ind., refinery, Bohney is an 11-year member.

“I decided to run for the Oil Policy Committee because of the importance of the committee and its members, and my commitment to help effectuate a contract that is beneficial to all USW oil members,” he said.

He plans to increase communication between the committee and the membership through email, group messages and face-to-face meetings, when possible. He also plans to involve more members in contract mobilization activities “by explaining the importance and impact these activities have and through reaching out to members to get them involved.”


Eric Sweeney, Region A alternate

Eric Sweeney, a Local 1-626 member, is the Region A alternate on the Oil Policy Committee. A day operator at Ineos Chemicals in Lima, Ohio, he is chairman of the amalgamated local’s Ineos Chemicals group. He has worked at the petrochemical company for 17 years and been a union member the entire time.

Sweeney said he ran for the committee because after being at the plant a long time—the next NOBP contract is his fourth—he wanted to be a part of the process, and improve communication within his region and contract language on outsourcing and fatigue.

“I would like to strengthen the safety language within our contracts,” he said. “I also would like to see manning increase across all the facilities because people are working too many hours. The company focuses only on its bottom line.”

Sweeney said his role is to assist Bohney, such as acting as a sounding board, stepping in when more support is needed, communicating with the members and gathering data.

“We put together a good regional email group during the unfair labor practice strike, but hopefully we will have better communication within the email group,” Sweeney said. “I would like to continue and expand upon the texting, emails and conference calls.”


Jim Savage, Region B representative

Having been an elected member of the NOBP Policy Committee for 12 years, Jim Savage carries the institutional knowledge of the oil bargaining process, the victories won and the progress made in wages, benefits, contract language, and health and safety.

That perspective also enables him to see what improvements can be made in bargaining and to be a resource and advisor to newly-elected policy committee members so they know what to expect during the process.

“We have good, elected committee members who can catch on quick,” Savage said. (Region B covers Districts 4, 8, 9 and 10.)

“I think mobilization and communication have improved with each round of bargaining,” he said. “It’s a process that you don’t figure out in one round. You have to find what works and what doesn’t. I would like to continue this progress.”

To that end, he said he will continue with the conference calls and emails to oil workers in his NOBP region whenever issues arise that everyone needs to know about.

“I look forward to continuing my work with the oil members from Region B. Hopefully, we all will be successful in this next round of bargaining,” he said.

Savage has been a Local 10-1 member for over 23 years, and works as a lead operator on a reformer unit, which makes the high octane component of gasoline, at Philadelphia Energy Solutions.


DeVon Crawford, Region B alternate

Through his union activism, Local 10-234 member DeVon Crawford brings to life his desire to make a difference in the world.

“I was once told by an old boss of mine ‘that if you want to create change you have to be in a position to influence change.’ I have lived with that philosophy for years now, and I love fighting for what is right!”

Currently the chairman of his local’s Workers Committee, Crawford served in the past as a trustee, recording secretary, vice president and shop steward. He also served on the joint health and safety team, and was the union’s process safety management representative for two-and-a-half years when Monroe Energy bought the former Phillips 66 refinery in June 2012.

He sees his role as supporting the movement of information from members to the Oil Policy Committee and back. As a first-time Region B alternate, his goals include figuring the best ways to receive and give information throughout the bargaining process, learning what is required to be successful during negotiations, establishing relationships with other committee members and supporting them, being a positive influence on the committee and offering a fresh perspective.

Crawford has a plan of action to get more oil workers involved in mobilization activities. It involves establishing a plan to educate the membership and ramp up communication beginning in the fall of 2018 at the latest; increasing the number of planned and communicated mobilization events in advance, and establishing rally and solidarity days and placing them on a published calendar given to each oil local and the International.

He would also like to see the International officers visit the districts to improve their visibility to the rank-and-file. He thinks that organizing community events or rallies with multiple oil locals within a district would show a united frontline. Lastly, he thinks that engaging with local, state and federal officials six months prior to contract expiration would be useful as well.

Crawford works as an extra operator in Area 6 (oil movement and storage) at the Monroe Energy refinery in Marcus Hook, Pa.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222