LOS ANGELES, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675 members from the Tesoro Wilmington (Los Angeles), Calif., refinery overwhelmingly voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call for a strike if a settlement cannot be reached with Tesoro. This location joins the Tesoro refineries in Martinez, Calif., Anacortes, Wash., and Mandan, N. Dakota in sanctioning a strike if one is called.
The local union's contract with the company expires April 30 and covers over 200 operations and maintenance personnel at the 94,300 barrels-per-day refinery. The strike authorization vote took place April 17-18.
"We are doing everything we can to negotiate in good faith and obtain a fair contract, but if Tesoro fails to do the same they'll give us no option other than to strike," said Local 675 Tesoro Unit Chair Ryan Heustis.
Tesoro insists that Local 675 eliminate its contract language that expressly prohibits any decrease in benefits during the term of a contract. During the term of the existing contract on Jan. 1, 2011 the company unilaterally reduced the pension and 401(k) match, and eliminated retiree life insurance, retiree dental coverage and retiree medical care for anyone older than age 65 by 2014. In response to Tesoro's action, the union filed unfair labor charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). An NLRB administrative law judge heard the charges in March and a decision is pending.
If Tesoro's Los Angeles refinery workers go on strike with workers from the company's Martinez, Calif., Anacortes, Wash., and Mandan, N. Dakota, refineries 78 percent of the company's capacity would be affected.
"If Tesoro is so concerned about safety, why is it willing to put the community at risk by placing unqualified and inexperienced people into our jobs should there be a strike?" Heustis asked. "The company seems more concerned about destroying our rights than it does the safety of the community."
The USW represents over 1,300 Tesoro workers at locations in Wilmington, Calif., Martinez, Calif., Kapolei, Hawaii, Anacortes, Wash., Salt Lake City, Utah, and Mandan, N. Dakota. Contracts have been resolved at the Kapolei and Salt Lake City locations.
The USW represents over 850,000 workers in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean who are employed in oil refining, pulp, paper and packaging, metals, rubber, chemicals, energy, government and the service sector.