Fed Up Oil Workers Strike

picket lineThe Tesoro oil refinery is having some problems, namely that their employees are on strike against the organization after the United Steelworkers Local (USW) ended negotiations with Shell Oil to try and strike a deal for workers. They want stronger health and safety standards as well as pay increases.

The Tesero Golden Eagle refinery in Carson, CA has had several accidents over the past year and they are just one of the refineries that workers are walking out of. One of the concerns of the workers is how fatigued they are, they work so many hours. They’d like the plant to hire more workers so they can shorten their own hours. As it is, the plant spends less on overtime pay than they would to hire new workers and offer them benefit packages. Current workers argue that continuing this excessive overtime is dangerous because they are exhausted and cannot focus on safety as much. It’s easier for accidents to occur when they are tired and there are hazardous materials contained in these plants. Another problem is that the industry is just getting older in general. As older refinery workers retire, younger workers are not eager to take their place so there is a general shortage of these kinds of workers.

The refinery says they will continue to try and negotiate with workers at all striking locations. This is the first US oil worker strike since 1980, and while it hasn’t seemed to disturb oil prices yet the two do not seem to be close on negotiations.

Other groups have started to join the protestors to show their support, like environmental groups and now nurses from the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. The environmentalists see the effects the plants have on the community and surrounding areas. The nurses say that the plants cause the health of workers to suffer. The nurses are the ones who then treat the exhausted workers, those injured by fires or explosions, those with respiratory problems, etc. They also say those in the community around the plant suffer chronic health problems like asthma because of the plant’s emissions.

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