The United Steelworkers (USW) has said that the union will sponsor a noon rally at Dorney Plaza following by a march to Marathon corroborate headquarters on Tuesday 24 February, to show management that union members are united in their drive for fair contracts that improve safety throughout the oil industry. Almost 6600 USW oil workers are currently engaged in an industry wide unfair labour practice strike at 15 refineries and chemical plants in Ohio, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas and Washington, and industry negotiators continue to refuse to discuss serious concerns raised by the union regarding the health and safety of workers and their communities.
Consumer Watchdog has said that they retail price per gallon of gas in California has soared 53 cents between February 2, when Tesoro began shutting down its refinery in Martinez, through to 23 February. A regular gallon of California gasoline now costs an average of US$2.96 /gal. Consumer Watchdog has twice written to state officials, calling for them to investigate artificial price manipulation, once after the Martinez shutdown, and once after an explosion and fire damaged Exxon’s Torrance refinery on February 18. The group has reportedly not yet heard back. Consumer Advocate Liza Tucker said, “it’s clearly time for lawmakers to hold refineries accountable through public hearings.” And it has been reported that the shutdown of Tesoro’s Martinez facility, paired with the Exxon Torrance blast, affects 16.5% of California’s refining capacity.
As soon as steelworkers began to strike, Tesoro announced it would shutdown its Martinez refinery completely rather than leave it partially running for routine maintenance and gas prices began to soar in a straight line, the watchdog has said. That line then spiked sharply again right after the Torrance explosion.
The price of gas tracks the price of crude oil. Crude oil has risen from a low of US$45 /bbl at the end of January to US$50 /bbl today. But the price of regular gas in California has risen more steeply than in the rest of the US where an average gallon of gas costs approximately US$2.31. Tucker commented, “the state needs to ensure that refineries, making almost all our gas due to our special more environmentally friendly blend, don’t take advantage of consumers. They have every reason to try to raise gas prices by restricting supply and capitalising on windfall profits while they can.”
Edited from press releases by Claira Lloyd
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