US refining industry and union reach agreement ahead of deadline

01 February 2012 02:23  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US refining industry and union workers tentatively agreed on a three-year national contract, more than four hours ahead of the deadline, the spokespersons for the oil industry and union said on Tuesday.

The contract is pending ratification by the United Steelworkers (USW) union oil workers, said USW spokeswoman Lynne Hancock.

The union and Shell Oil, which represents the US refining industry, began the talks in the week of 16 January. USW International Vice president Gary Beevers and his assistant, Jim Lefton, led the union negotiations.

Health and safety were the primary issues for the negotiations, along with wages and benefits, according to the union.

During the previous negotiations in 2009, health and safety issues were largely dropped because focus turned to wages in wake of tumbling economic indicators.

The current national contract expires at 12:00 am Houston time (0:00 GMT).

Many US individual refineries are working on local contracts between the refinery union workers and refinery management. The local contracts are tailored to the refiners' circumstances, and the majority also expire at the end of Tuesday. 

Valero has received notice that a strike could hit its 292,000 bbl/day Port Arthur refinery in Texas, said spokesman Bill Day.

Such a notice allows union members to stop working if no local agreement is met before Wednesday.

Valero and the other US refiners have contingency plans in place in the case a strike should occur.

The USW represents 30,000 workers at 168 production, refining, marketing, transportation, pipeline and petrochemical facilities nationwide, including 69 refineries representing approximately 64 percent of US refining capacity.

By: Sheena Martin
+1 713 525 2653

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