U.S. refiners, workers reach tentative labor deal on wages and benefits, avoiding a strike
February 4, 2009
The Associated Press reports that union negotiators have tentatively agreed to a new labor contract with refiners, averting a strike by as many as 24,000 workers that could have crimped U.S. supplies of gasoline and other fuels. The agreement sets minimum levels for wages and benefits. Final details of the agreement will be released by the United Steelworkers union, which represents 30,000 employees in the oil industry. The contract must still be ratified by local union bargaining units, which have the option of negotiating for higher benefits. A strike by unionized oil workers could have affected about 60 producers including Exxon Mobil, Valero, Royal Dutch Shell, BP PLC, and Chevron, according to union. The contract dispute came as demand for gasoline, chemicals and other products made by refineries have evaporated. With Americans driving less, refineries began shutting down for maintenance early this year to take more production off line.