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USW and Shell make some progress in refinery talks -sources

JANUARY 22, 2019

HOUSTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) – The United Steelworkers union (USW) has made progress on some issues in contract talks with Shell Oil Co, which is the lead negotiator for U.S. refinery and chemical plant owners, sources familiar with the negotiations said on Monday.

Many tough issues remain to be resolved at the bargaining table, the sources said.

The sources declined to identify on which issues progress has been made or which remain to be resolved between the union negotiating on behalf of 30,000 refinery, chemical plant and pipeline workers and Shell Oil, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc

The union is seeking a pay increase of 8 percent a year for each year of a three-year agreement that would take effect when the current contract expires on Feb. 1.

Shell has not identified any of its proposals in the first negotiations since a strike in 2015 when more than 7,000 workers walked off their jobs for several weeks.

Monday’s message comes after the United Steelworkers said on Friday it had rejected a proposal from Shell for an automatic extension of negotiations when the contract expires.

In addition to the pay increase for workers, who on average earn $40 an hour after four years on the job, the USW has said it is seeking improved standards to prevent fatigue as well as additional health and safety representatives, including at small plants.

The union also hopes to gain greater protection for pipeline workers traveling to remote locations and performing high-risk work.

Shell has been the lead company in contract talks for U.S. union-represented refinery workers since 1997.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba Editing by Leslie Adler)


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