Workers at a Canadian-owned refinery in Lima, Ohio, took their fight for a fair contract and strong workplace safety rules north of the border last week, with a series of informational picketing and leafleting—joined by Canadian union supporters—at Husky Energy headquarters in Calgary, other Husky facilities and a petroleum industry trade show.
Some 235 workers, members of United Steelworkers ( USW ) Local 624 have been engaged in an unfair labor practice strike against Husky since May 25.
USW International Vice President Gary Beevers, who heads National Oil Bargaining, says that the pattern agreement includes establishment of a process safety representative position and a fatigue standard that covers worker fatigue from working too many hours on the job.
Husky’s proposals on these safety items do not meet the pattern. The company also does not determine the national pattern; it has already been set by the industry. We will not let this company break the pattern and the pattern bargaining process we have done for almost 50 years.
He adds that the new safety provisions in the national agreement were included to combat numerous accidents during the term of the previous contract, including 18 refinery deaths and at more than 130 workplace fires.
If the company [meets the new safety rules] it will find it helps them operate better and more safely in the long run.
While negotiations are continuing, the local has filed National Labor Relations Board charges alleging over 35 unfair labor practice allegations related to Husky’s conduct at the bargaining table and with the membership—conduct which also has hampered progress in negotiations.