ABC NEWS

Refinery Workers Strike Spreads to Biggest US Location
Refinery workers strike spreads to biggest US location, sites in Louisiana


Feb 21, 2015, 6:14 PM ET / By TOM MURPHY AP Business Writer


The first nationwide oil refinery strike in more than 30 years was poised to expand this weekend
in a labor dispute that may start having more of an impact on the price consumers pay for
gasoline.


The United Steelworkers union said Saturday that workers at the largest refinery in the U.S., the
Motiva Enterprises refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, started their strike at midnight Friday.
Employees at two other refineries and a chemical plant in Louisiana planned to strike at the end
of Saturday.


The union said in a statement that it expanded a strike that started Feb. 1 at refineries largely in
Texas and California because the industry has refused to "meaningfully address" safety issues
through good-faith bargaining. The union also wants to discuss staffing levels and seeks limits
on the use of contractors to replace union members in doing daily maintenance work.


The union started negotiating a new contract Jan. 21 with Shell Oil Co., which is serving as the
lead company in national bargaining talks.


Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said in an email that the company was "extremely disappointed"
with the latest development.


"We believe this move sets the wrong tone for both parties to move forward and reach an
agreement," Fisher wrote. "We remain committed to continued safe operations and productive
negotiations."


United Steelworkers represents about 30,000 workers at refineries, terminals, petrochemical
plants and pipelines across the country. The strike started with about 3,800 workers at nine
refineries and then grew to include locations in Indiana and Ohio.


This latest expansion adds another 1,350 employees to the strike. The workers who were to begin
striking Saturday at midnight work at Motiva refineries in Convent and Norco, Louisiana, and a
Shell Chemical plant in Norco.


The Port Arthur site is a joint venture between Shell and Saudi Refining Inc. It produces more
than 600,000 barrels per day.


Oil companies and energy experts have said that improved plant technology and strikecontingency
plans should ease the blow to production from these strikes. But economists say
pockets of the country served by refineries targeted in these strikes have likely already seen some
impact to gas prices.


That includes California, which depends more on in-state refineries for its fuel, said Amy Myers
Jaffe, an energy economist at the University of California, Davis.


"The price of gasoline didn't soar in California, but it went up a little bit after the strike," she
said.


She added that the labor dispute's influence on price may grow as refineries finish the
maintenance work they typically do at this time of year and start preparing to increase gasoline
production.


"The longer it goes on, then the more likely it is going to influence gas prices," she said.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Copyright © 2015 ABC News Internet Ventures


FUTURES AND OPTIONS TRADING INVOLVE SIGNIFICANT RISK OF LOSS AND
MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR EVERYONE. OPTIONS, CASH AND FUTURES
MARKETS ARE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT AND DO NOT NECESSARILY
RESPOND IN THE SAME WAY TO SIMILAR MARKETS STIMULUS. A MOVEMENT
IN THE CASH MARKET WOULD NOT NECESSARILY MOVE IN TANDEM WITH THE
RELATED FUTURES & OPTIONS CONTRACT BEING OFFERED. SEASONAL
DEMAND AND CURRENT NEWS IN COMMODITIES ARE ALREADY REFLECTED
IN THE PRICE OF THE UNDERLYING FUTURES.