Largest U.S. refinery joins nationwide oil strike

HOUSTON. KAZINFORM - Workers at the largest refinery in the United States on Saturday joined a nationwide oil refinery strike as the union representing them pushes for a new contract that improves wages and safety.

The United Steelworkers union, which represents about 30,000 workers at refineries, terminals, petrochemical plants and pipelines across the country, said the strike expanded at midnight Friday to include the largest refinery in the U.S., the Motiva Enterprises refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. The union said employees at two other refineries and a chemical plant in Louisiana also planned to strike at the end of Saturday. So far strikes are underway or have been called at 15 plants, including 12 refineries with a fifth of U.S. crude processing capacity. The strike started early February following a failed negotiation between United Steelworkers and Shell Oil Co., which has been serving as the lead company in national bargaining talks. They have been back to the table for several times but have not come up with a compromise. "The industry's refusal to meaningfully address safety issues through good-faith bargaining gave us no other option but to expand our work stoppage," United Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard said in a statement on Saturday. Shell spokesman Ray Fisher responded in an email that his 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." The first nationwide oil refinery strike in more than 30 years began at refineries mostly in Texas and California, then grew to include facilities in Ohio and Indiana. Source: Xinhua

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