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Shell: Tentative deal impacting 30,000 refinery workers reached

Royal Dutch Shell says it has reached a tentative deal with the union impacting 30,000 refinery workers and a consortium of Big Oil majors and energy companies nationally. The deal affects 5,000 refinery, chemical and pipeline workers in the Houston area.

Royal Dutch Shell – representing several energy companies including Exxon Mobil, Shell, PBF Energy, Valero, Phillips 66, Chevron, Chevron Phillips Chemical, LyondellBasell and Marathon Petroleum – said it has struck a tentative deal with the United Steelworkers union just hours before a 12:01 a.m. deadline.

Later Thursday night the USW confirmed a tentative agreement had been reached.

The national labor talks set a pattern on wages, benefits, seniority and other working conditions. That national pattern is then incorporated into localized labor contracts that must be approved by individual companies and refineries.

“The tentative agreement is being put before the USW’s membership at our refineries and chemical plants for ratification in the coming days. While some local issues are still being addressed at various sites around the country, national contract issues have been resolved,” said Ray Fisher, Shell spokesman, in a statement.

“We believe this agreement respects the needs of our employees, underpins our resolute commitment to safety and ensures the economic health of Shell’s facilities,” Fisher said, but he did not disclose the terms of the deal.

The union reportedly had asked for 8 percent annual raise for workers who make an average $40 an hour with four years experience. The union also proposed members begin replacing as much as 10 percent a year of the non-union workers who perform maintenance work at refineries and chemical plants, according to media reports.

The union declined to disclose the final terms of the deal until local units could review the tentative agreement.

“We reached a tentative agreement because of our members’ solidarity and the industry’s willingness to negotiate a contract that is fair to both parties,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard in an announcement Thursday night.

Earlier in the day, a Houston union representative said several of the local refineries were still working to hammer out their own localized version of the national contract.

It’s not clear yet when all the Houston area refineries will finalize their own local labor contracts.

In the last round of contract talks in 2015,  disputes over local issues kept workers off the job in several locations even after a major strike and a national agreement was reached. It took three months for LyondellBasell workers to approve a contract and return to work then.

Thousands of refinery workers went on a national strike in 2015. The stoppage included some 6,500 workers at 15 facilities and 12 refineries nationwide, including LyondellBasell’s in Pasadena, Shell Deer Park Refinery in Deer Park, Shell Deer Park Chemical Plant, Marathon’s Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City and Marathon’s Cogeneration and Motiva.

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