United Steelworkers and Shell Oil reached a tentative agreement on a new national labor contract for refinery workers that could serve as a pattern for contracts with other oil companies if ratified by members. The two sides have not released details of the three-year contract, which was set to expire on February 1.
The USW in a statement announcing the agreement said it “was pleased to announce” that it had reached an agreement. The Shell contract could serve as a pattern for new contracts with Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, BP, Valero, Chevron, Tesoro, Sunoco, Marathon, and PBF Energy.
Before bagaining between the two sides began, the National Oil Policy Council, composed of USW members from local refineries, made health and safety improvements a priority for this contract. Two weeks before the contract deadline, USW members rallied in six states to press the demand for improved safety at the nation’s refineries. Since 2009 when the current contract was implemented, 18 refinery workers have died in on-the-job accidents.
“When we go to the bargaining table with the industry, we’re going to have real changes on health and safety or we’re not going to work,” said USW International Vice-President for Oil Bargaining Gary Beevers at the time that the rallies were held.