Refinery Workers Prepare to Picket

The United Steelworkers Union represents 30,000 oil workers nationwide. With the rejection of a third contract, around 24,000 of these oil workers are prepared to strike in response to failed negotiations that did not meet the Steelworkers Union’s demands for increased wages and improved medical coverage. The Union is prepared to strike beginning today, Saturday, January 31, 2009 according to the Associated Press.

From the Gulf of Mexico all the way to Montana, the oil industry is on watch. A major root of the standoff stems from the dire economic situation in America. The demand for oil is at its lowest since 1971 even while we are witnessing prices rise. The strike will affect sixty oil producers, including some of the nation’s largest oil companies, Exxon Mobil, Valero Energy Group, and the refiner LyondellBassell Incorporated.

Many of these companies are shutting down operations while a few larger companies are prepared to break line with contingency workers that are being trained. What remains to be seen is how the strike will be resolved, how it will affect the future labor conditions of the workers, and how the price of gasoline will change during a period of rapid market fluctuation. In our class we discuss how labor movements act in a collective organization to increase leverage. This is an interesting case due to the timing of the strike.

With our current unemployment increase and economic turmoil, the Union is choosing to take a stand against what they feel to be an unfair contract. In addition to the timing is the scope, besides the 24,000 workers the oil industry and the oil consuming public will all feel the consequences of this labor conflict.

Works Cited “Refinery Workers Prepare to Picket. ” The Associated Press. 31 January 2009. http://www. khou. com/topstories/stories/khou090131_mp_refinery-workers-may-picket. 705e041. html.