USW, Shell reach tentative deal to end strike at US refineries

Royal Dutch Shell PLC and the United Steelworkers union (USW) have reached a tentative bargaining agreement over pay, benefits, and health and safety standards for union workers that could settle a more than 6-week unfair labor practice (ULP) strike in effect at 15 US refineries and associated installations.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC and the United Steelworkers union (USW) have reached a tentative bargaining agreement over pay, benefits, and health and safety standards for union workers that could settle a more than 6-week unfair labor practice (ULP) strike in effect at 15 US refineries and associated installations (OGJ Online, Feb. 2, 2015).

USW lead negotiators and the National Oil Bargaining Policy Committee approved the contract, which will serve as a pattern agreement for the rest of the industry, on Mar. 12, Shell and USW said in separate statements.

The preliminary agreement follows 8 weeks of on-again, off-again negotiations between USW and Shell—lead company for National Oil Bargaining (NOB) negotiations—which only resumed in earnest on Mar. 9 (OGJ Online, Mar. 5, 2015).

With a tentative agreement now reached between the parties, Shell will put the terms of the proposed settlement on all of the bargaining tables of all Shell and Motiva Enterprises, which union officials expect will become the same terms offered at local bargaining tables of other strike-impacted operators, USW said.

Local unions will then review all employers’ proposals with Gary Beevers, vice-president of USW International, after which time approved settlement agreements will be presented to and voted on by local union members, USW said.

While Shell said union members are set to vote on the proposed agreement in the coming days, a precise timetable for when the nationwide ULP strike could conclude remains unavailable.

The agreement

Specifically, the proposed agreement sets terms for a 4-year period lasting from Feb. 1, 2015, through Jan. 31, 2019, Shell said.

Terms of the deal include the following:

Wages. Shell has proposed an annual wage increases of 2.5%, 3%, 3%, and 3.5%, respectively, during the 4-period, which will take effect on Apr. 1 in 2015 and on Feb. 1 in 2016-19.

Healthcare. Shell has offered to renew its current contributions toward premiums for the Shell medical plan, based on an employer-employee contribution rate of 80%-20%.

Maintenance contractors. The parties have agreed to jointly review on a local level the future need, supply, and development of craft workers.

Fatigue management. The parties have agreed to immediately review staffing and workload assessments, with USW safety personnel involved at every plant, as well as to meet semiannually to review site practices related to fatigue.

No retrogression. The parties have agreed to preserve contract language that would require Shell to renew previous agreements reached with USW members in prior rounds of NOB negotiations with respect to layoff notices, plant closures, rate retention, health and safety, successorship, and job security.

Strike recap

To date, USW’s ULP strike remains in effect at the following locations, listed by company:

Motiva Enterprises:

• 600,000-b/d refinery in Port Arthur, Tex.

• 235,000-b/d Convent, La., refinery.

• 238,000-b/d Norco, La., refinery.

Shell:

• 340,000-b/d Deer Park, Tex., refinery.

• Shell Chemical LP’s Deer Park petrochemicals plant.

• Shell Chemical’s plant in Norco, La.

LyondellBasell:

• 268,000-b/d Houston refinery.

Marathon Petroleum Corp.:

• 451,000-b/d Galveston Bay, Tex., refinery and associated South Houston Green Power cogeneration plant.

• 242,000-b/d Catlettsburg, Ky., refinery.

Tesoro Corp.:

• 120,000-b/d Anacortes, Wash., refinery.

• 166,000-b/d Martinez, Calif., refinery.

• Carson portion of the 363,000-b/d Los Angeles refinery.

BP PLC:

• 413,000-b/d Whiting, Ind., refinery.

• 160,000-b/d Toledo, Ohio, refinery.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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