Whether or not workers have been on strike there, each local union now needs to negotiate a contract that incorporates the national agreement and resolves local issues before the dispute—affecting about 30,000 workers at more than 100 refineries and related facilities, who account for 64 percent of the industry—is ended.
Over many years, the industry has increased pressure on its generally high-skill workforce, often forcing them to work 12-hour shifts for several weeks straight.
“They totally grab hold of our schedules to the point that the workers have no family life. I call it ‘management by stress’,” says southern California local leader Dave Campbell. Workers suffer from fatigue and find it more difficult to work safely, he says.
They also are more vulnerable to management arguments that the company needs more outside contractors, many of whom are non-union and are often less knowledgeable about the equipment than a regular, full-time maintenance crew.