Breaking News
0

U.S. union boss heads to oil contract talks after win for steelworkers

Stock MarketsJan 16, 2019 01:10AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. U.S. union boss heads to oil contract talks after win for steelworkers

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Buoyed by concluding a big pay raise for steel workers last month, a United Steelworkers union top negotiator squares off on Wednesday against oil companies seeking to win a 24 percent wage hike for 30,000 refinery and chemical employees.

The stakes are high for the union and oil industry, which scored big profits last year from refining and chemicals. The talks are the first since 2015 when a stalemate led to rolling strikes that sent more than 7,000 workers off their jobs at 12 U.S. refineries and three chemical plants.

The union's co-negotiator, USW International Vice President Tom Conway, is a 6-foot-tall former Bethlehem Steel millwright with a reputation as a bulldog, according to associates. He faces negotiators from Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) Plc's U.S. arm, which has represented the oil industry in talks since 1997.

Conway led USW negotiations last year with U.S. Steel Corp that got hourly employees a 14 percent raise over four years.

The USW is seeking a three-year agreement with the oil industry that would replace the pact that expires on Feb. 1. The union's proposals include an 8 percent annual wage increase for each year of the contract. Union members with four years' experience earn about $40 an hour.

The contract covers 30,000 workers at plants operated by Shell, Marathon Petroleum Corp (NYSE:MPC), BP (LON:BP) Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:XOM), Valero Energy Corp (NYSE:VLO), and smaller refiners such as HollyFrontier Corp and Delek US Holdings Inc.

Refiners enter talks enjoying high profits from near-full plant utilization rates and record product exports that have lifted margins.

"We look forward to a productive set of talks with the USW and will bargain in good faith to reach a mutually acceptable agreement," said Shell spokesman Ray Fisher.

Fisher declined to discuss the terms that the company would offer.

In addition to higher pay, the union is seeking improved job security, health and safety conditions including the number of consecutive days that employees must work, officials have said.

Conway, son of a union member and a U.S. Air Force veteran, declined to be interviewed. But in remarks at a union convention in 2017, he described his negotiating philosophy as a battle with corporations to get the benefits workers deserve.

"Collective bargaining makes them sit and share with us what we rightfully have a right to demand," he said at the Las Vegas meeting. "Be ready for it, because the fights will come whether we want them or not. But when the fights do come, we can win those fights."

Conway helped lead workers through the 2015 strike, triggered when oil-company negotiators failed to ask for an extension of talks after the prior contract expired, said former USW International Vice President Gary Beevers.

"He is an excellent negotiator and an asset to the team," Beevers said of Conway. Conway is part of a two-man team with USW National Oil Bargaining Chairman Kim Nibarger.

Failure to reach a deal could have widely felt impact. During the 2015 strike, the 12 refineries cut production by as much as 50 percent, reducing gasoline supply during the spring build-up during the summer driving season.

U.S. union boss heads to oil contract talks after win for steelworkers
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email