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USW Oil Conference Delegates Develop Proposals for National Oil Bargaining Policy

Contact: Lynne Hancock, USW, c) 615-828-6169

Pittsburgh— United Steelworkers (USW) members attending the National Oil Bargaining conference here this week developed bargaining proposals  that will go to the oil membership for a vote before they become the union’s national bargaining policy. Delegates also passed unanimously a resolution to form a committee that will put together a supplemental strike fund to support oil locals and units in addition to the International union’s substantial strike and defense fund.

“The oil delegates put a lot of thought into these proposals,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “They listened to their members’ concerns and developed items that would help oil workers, their families, and their communities.”

The proposals cover national issues. Local issues pertaining to a specific facility are handled at local union bargaining tables.

Contracting out, rising health care costs, erosion of the union bargaining unit, staffing, fatigue and wages are some of the major issues. Details are being withheld until all local oil union members ratify the proposals.

“We plan to build upon the success we had during the last round of oil bargaining in 2012,” said USW International Vice President Gary Beevers, who heads the National Oil Bargaining Program. “During the last three years our locals experienced some problems implementing provisions of the last national pattern agreement with the oil industry. Our members developed proposals this week to help solve those problems and create safer workplaces and communities.”

During the conference 300 delegates met in their company councils to develop a bargaining agenda.  Proposals from the 10 councils then went to the elected, rank-and-file National Oil Bargaining Policy Committee. The five committee members, along with USW International Vice Presidents Gary Beevers and Tom Conway, discussed the proposals and developed a bargaining agenda called the National Oil Bargaining program.

The delegates convened today to discuss the program and vote on it. They passed it unanimously. Now it goes to the oil membership for a vote.

The USW’s oil units have 45 days from Oct. 31 to present the program and have their members vote on it at a membership meeting. All the units have to ratify the oil program by Dec. 15, 2014.

Once 75 percent of the oil units ratify it, the program becomes the union’s oil policy for 2015 negotiations, which begin in mid-January. Ratification of the National Oil Bargaining program also gives Beevers the authority to call a strike over national issues.  Local negotiations happen concurrently with national bargaining.

“We are confident we can make some real gains during this round of national oil bargaining,” said USW International Vice President Tom Conway. “The oil industry continues to earn billions of dollars in profits and can well-afford these proposals.”

The National Oil Bargaining pattern agreement expires Jan. 31, 2015 at 11:59 p.m.

“I look forward to negotiating a contract that is fair to our oil workers and the industry,” Beevers said, “but if talks don’t go well, our members are mobilized and ready.”

The USW represents 30,000 workers at 160 production, refining, marketing, transportation, pipeline and petrochemical facilities nationwide, including 66 refineries representing approximately 64 percent of US refining capacity.

The USW is the largest private sector union in North America and represents 850,000 workers in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean employed in metals, rubber, glass, chemicals, pulp and paper, energy and the service and public sectors.

Moises Hernandez