Oil Bargaining Basics

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What is a union contract? 

A contract, also known as a collective bargaining agreement, is a legal agreement between a union and employer that covers the terms and conditions of employment, such as wages, hours of work, time off, benefits, safety, job security and protections against unfair treatment or discharge. 

Why is having a contract important? 

Bargaining a contract is the best way to ensure we have protections at work. A contract means that management cannot simply decide, on its own, to make changes such as cutting wages and benefits, firing employees, playing favorites or changing schedules and holidays. Our contract also provides a procedure to resolve disputes if our employer violates the agreement – called the grievance and arbitration procedure. 

What is included in our contract? 

As part of the National Oil Bargaining Program, our contract includes items bargained at the national and local levels. This gives us more power to bargain major issues by uniting oil workers across the country regardless of employer while ensuring we can address issues specific to our workplace.  

We negotiate our contract in two parts: 

National bargaining: 

  • We bargain together with every USW oil local in the country as part of the National Oil Bargaining Program to set wage increases as well as other items, including health care cost sharing, training, health and safety issues, protections against layoffs, and security for benefits in case our facility is bought or sold. 
  • We are represented by our International President, National Oil Bargaining Chair and our elected National Oil Bargaining Policy Committee. The industry will be represented by Marathon Petroleum, chosen by the industry as their lead negotiator. 

Local bargaining: 

  • Our local union bargaining committee negotiates with our employer over issues like scheduling, safety, work rules and job classifications. 
  • In some cases, we may coordinate with other local unions at our same employer to negotiate over items that impact all of us. 

What happens in contract negotiations? 

Representatives from the union and the employer make and discuss proposals. Both sides caucus (meet separately), make counter proposals, test out ideas and look for ways to bridge differences. 

Our goal is to reach an agreement that is beneficial to our members.

How do we win a fair contract? 

Our employers are not going to “give” us anything. They never have, and they never will. 

We win when we build solidarity and unity, both at our individual facilities and nationally as part of the National Oil Bargaining Program. We improve our ability to address our issues in negotiations when our employer sees our unity and determination.

Sharing information and taking part in solidarity activities is how we send a message to management that we are strong, united and willing to fight for a fair agreement. 

How do I get more information on negotiations? 

Look for information from your Local Union leaders and sign-up to receive text messages by texting the word oil to the phone number 47486. 

Receive Mobile Alerts About Contract Negotiations: 

Text OIL to the phone number 47486. 

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