Greater than 500 staff at a Chevron refinery within the San Francisco Bay Space went on strike early Monday over security issues and to demand a wage improve to maintain up with inflation and the realm’s excessive value of dwelling.
The strike affecting the refinery in Richmond started at 12:01 a.m. It got here after staff voted down Chevron’s most up-to-date contract provide and the corporate refused to return to the bargaining desk, the United Steelworkers union mentioned.
Chevron Corp. mentioned refinery operations will proceed regardless of the strike, and it doesn’t count on any supply-chain points.
If the strike have been to close down the refinery, that would additional enhance gasoline costs in California — which has the very best common gasoline value common within the nation at $5.855 a gallon, based on the American Vehicle Assn. Gasoline costs have been hovering since Russia invaded Ukraine, and Chevron’s Richmond refinery is likely one of the state’s largest.
Chevron mentioned in a press release it’s “absolutely ready to proceed regular operations.”
“We anticipate no points in sustaining a dependable provide of merchandise to the market,” it mentioned.
Ken Medlock, director of the Heart for Vitality Research at Rice College’s Baker Institute, mentioned it’s extremely unlikely the strike would lead Chevron to close down operations or increase costs.
“It’s extra seemingly that the refinery will run with a ‘skeleton crew’ till the labor contract points will be resolved,” Medlock mentioned in an e-mail.
“California costs are already greater than different states as a result of distinctive mix that have to be bought within the state that limits arbitrage of imported gasoline from different areas, so there may be ample incentive to maintain the refinery operating,” he mentioned.
Chevron mentioned Sunday evening that it has negotiated with the union for months and believes a contract provided by the corporate is honest and addresses union issues.
The union mentioned it had negotiated a nationwide settlement for oil staff on wages and dealing situations, however about 200 particular person bargaining models nonetheless needed to negotiate native points. The final strike on the Richmond refinery was in 1980 as a part of a nationwide walkout.
USW Native 5 consultant B.Okay. White, a refinery operator who has labored for the corporate for 29 years, mentioned Chevron failed to deal with employee fatigue and a scarcity of staffing.
“If we had extra folks and will get a greater pay charge, perhaps our members wouldn’t really feel obligated to come back in and work as many as 70 hours every week to make ends meet,” White mentioned. “We don’t consider that’s protected.”
Chevron mentioned that in Richmond, the union’s calls for “exceeded what the corporate believes to be cheap and moved past what was agreed to as a part of the nationwide sample bargaining settlement.”
The corporate provided a 2.5% pay improve, however the union had requested for five% to maintain up with inflation and the price of dwelling within the Bay Space, White mentioned.
“It’s tough for the blue-collar employee within the Bay Space, and we requested for a 5% bump to assist us out a little bit bit with our medical at Kaiser, which went up 23% final yr,” White mentioned.
White mentioned the corporate has already introduced in about 100 substitute staff who will not be skilled to run the vegetation.
“That is on the detriment of the town of Richmond and the atmosphere,” he mentioned.
The corporate mentioned it introduced in certified replacements beginning with Sunday’s evening shift.
“The workers who’re working the refinery throughout the strike have happy the required necessities to carry out their designated jobs (together with receiving on-the-job coaching from skilled workers/operators) in order that the refinery will likely be operated safely and in compliance with all relevant legal guidelines,” Chevron spokesperson Tyler Kruzich mentioned in an e-mail.
The previous contract with Chevron in Richmond expired Feb. 1, and staff had been reporting to their jobs on a rolling 24-hour extension, the union mentioned.
Chevron, which is predicated in San Ramon, Calif., mentioned on its web site that the refinery employs 1,300 staff and processes about 250,000 barrels of crude oil a day into gasoline, diesel and jet gasoline and lubricating oils.
The union represents about 600 workers who embrace machinists, pipe fitters, lab technicians and warehouse staff, White mentioned.