No deal yet! Rally Saturday with Anacortes refinery strikers

UPDATE (March 13, 2015) — PICKET HELP — Although the USW and Shell have a tentative deal (see below) on a national oil refinery agreement, THE STRIKE CONTINUES at Tesoro in Anacortes, Wash. Local bargaining continues over unresolved issues, including the company’s demand to take control of the employees’ health care plan. So now more than ever, assistance is needed to maintain strong picket lines, particularly during manager/contractor shift changes each day from 5 to 7 a.m. and 3 to 8 p.m. Please come help picket at those times, or whenever you are available 24-7. Directions: Take I-5 to Exit 230 (Anacortes, State Route 20), take SR 20 west to March Point Road, take a right on March Point (the stoplight after the Ford dealership), the refinery is at 10200 W March Point Road.

SOLIDARITY RALLY — Also, all union members and community supporters are urged to attend a Solidarity Rally with Tesoro Anacortes workers on Saturday, March 21 at 1 p.m. outside the refinery gates. Meet at the Park and Ride at 8147 S. March Point Road (off Highway 20) near the refinery. Let’s show these striking refinery workers that the community is behind them until they get a fair contract that protects their safety and resolves their local issues. Download and distribute the rally flier.

The following is from the USW:

(March 13, 2015) — The United Steelworkers (USW) announced Thursday that it has reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract with Shell Oil as a pattern agreement for the rest of the industry. The agreement accomplishes the major goals as directed by the USW’s oil conference in October of last year, and has been approved by union’s lead negotiators and National Oil Bargaining Policy (NOBP) Committee.

“We salute the solidarity exhibited by our membership,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “There was no way we would have won vast improvements in safety and staffing without it.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — This doesn’t mean the oil refinery strike has ended. Pickets will continue, including at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash.

“Bargaining and the strike will continue at those locations that have unresolved local issues, including the Tesoro facilities in Anacortes and elsewhere, which have serious open issues that remain to be resolved,” said USW International Representative Gaylan Prescott. “Locations that have no open local issues will continue to picket until return-to-work agreements are bargained.”

Safety issues were central to the negotiations, and the proposed agreement calls for the immediate review of staffing and workload assessments, with USW safety personnel involved at every facility. Daily maintenance and repair work in the plants was another critical issue that, too, was addressed.

“The new agreement calls for joint review on the local level of future, craft worker staffing needs,” said USW International Vice President Tom Conway. “Included are hiring plans to be developed in conjunction with recruitment and training programs.”

The tentative agreement calls for yearly wages increases as well as maintaining the current health care plan cost-sharing ratio.

“Preserving ‘retrogression’ clauses in our agreements was also an objective established by our policy conference and we accomplished that, too,” said USW International Vice President Gary Beevers, who oversees the union’s oil sector. “There was no way we could turn our backs to the accomplishments of prior contract negotiations.”

The next step in the bargaining process is for the company to put the terms of the settlement agreement on all of the Shell and Motiva bargaining tables. The USW’s expectation is that other employers will offer the same terms at their local bargaining tables. The local unions will then review the employers’ proposals with Vice President Beevers. Approved settlement agreements are then submitted to the local membership for explanation and ratification votes.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed among industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, plus the service and public sectors. For more information:

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