Late last week, it was announced by United Steelworkers (USW) that a tentative agreement on a new four year contract had been reached with Shell Oil as a pattern agreement for the rest of the industry. The agreement accomplishes the major goals as directed by the USW’s oil conference in October 2014, and has bee approved by the union’s lead negotiators and National Oil Bargaining Policy (NOBP) committee. Leo W. Gerard, USW International President said, “we salute the solidarity exhibited by our membership. There is no way we would have won vast improvements in safety and staffing without it.”
Safety issues were a key part of the negotiations, and the proposed agreement calls for the immediate review of staffing and workload assessment, with USW safety personnel involved at every facility. Daily maintenance and repair work in the plants was another critical issue that was also addressed. Tom Conway, USW International Vice President said, “the new agreement calls for joint review on the local level of future, craft worker staffing needs. Included are hiring plans to be developed in conjunction with recruitment and training programs.”
The new tentative agreement is calling for yearly wage increased as well as maintaining the current health care plan cost sharing ratio. Gary Beevers, USW International Vice President who oversees the union’s oil sector commented, “preserving retrogression clauses in our agreements was also an objective established by our policy conference and we accomplished that, too. There was no way we could turn our backs to the accomplishments of prior contract negotiations.”
The next step in the bargining process is for the company to put the terms of the settlement agreement on all of the Shell and Motiva bargaining tables. USW’s expectation is that other employers will offer the same terms at their local discussions. The local unions will then review the employers’ proposals with Beevers. Approved settlement agreements are then submitted to the local membership for explanation and ratification votes.
Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd
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