Chevron Corp oil refinery workers outside San Francisco were removed from the site hours before a deadline to commence their first labor strike at the company in more than four decades.
Non-union workers replaced more than 500 United Steelworkers at the mill Sunday night. According to USW Local 5 First Vice President B.K. White in an interview, no further contract negotiations are scheduled.
The refinery’s previous labor contract expired on February 1 and negotiations have been fruitless since then. The company’s bids were rejected by the union on two separate occasions.
An official from Chevron said that “the union’s demands go beyond what we feel is reasonable and push beyond what was agreed upon as part of the national pattern bargaining agreement.”
While Chevron is “committed to continuing to work towards a deal,” the company has taken the necessary measures in order to keep the facility operating as normal.
As part of a national walkout in 1980, the 245,000 barrel-per-day factory produced gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel fuel.
CHALLENGES IN FAR-OFF PLACES
According to White of the USW, “we are far off” in terms of coming to an agreement. One side sees the meat and bones, while the other sees the bottom line, which makes negotiations difficult, according to him.
Because of the high cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, the USW local has requested a 5 percent pay rise over that agreed upon by its colleagues last month. In addition, the union is also asking the corporation to hire more workers to lower the 60-70 hours per week that union members must put in, White added.
Refiners and USW signed a national agreement last month that will provide the union’s approximately 35,000 members with a 12% wage increase over four years.
A separate contract is negotiated for each plant, and Chevron workers in Richmond have twice rejected the company’s proposals.
On Sunday evening at about 5 p.m., non-union Chevron personnel began seizing control of refinery activities formerly run by union staff, according to White.
RISKY FUEL COSTS
According to AAA, California has some of the highest gas prices in the country, with normal unleaded retailing for $5.847 per gallon and diesel selling for $6.258 per gallon on Sunday.
Union machinists were instructed to remove their personal tools and return to the refinery before the contract extension expires on Saturday.
Union members rejected Chevron’s ideas twice. According to statements posted online by USW Local 5, the final vote on Saturday was decisively against what was labeled the company’s last, best, and final offer.