USW International President Leo W. Gerard, USW International Vice President Tom Conway and UAW International President Bob King. Image courtesy of United Steelworkers/Flickr.

The United Steelworkers reached a tentative four year deal Thursday with Royal Dutch Shell that would end work stoppages at 16 U.S. refineries and plants.

The strike began on February 2 and spread to 16 refineries and plants after a national contract covering 65 facilities expired.

The deal will serve as a pattern agreement for the rest of the industry.

Shell, the oil industry’s representative during the talks, said the agreement accomplishes the major goals as directed by the USW’s oil conference in October and has been approved by the union’s lead negotiators and National Oil Bargaining Policy Committee.

“We salute the solidarity exhibited by our membership. There was no way we would have won vast improvements in safety and staffing without it,” USW International president Leo W. Gerard said.

The proposed agreement also calls for an immediate review of staffing and workload assessments, with USW safety personnel involved at every facility.

Daily maintenance and repair work in the plants was another critical issue that was also addressed, Shell said.

The new agreement calls for a joint review on the local level of future craft worker staffing needs including hiring plans to be developed in conjunction with recruitment and training programs.

The tentative agreement also calls for yearly wages increases as well as maintaining the current health care plan cost-sharing ratio.

The next step in the bargaining process is for the company to put the terms of the settlement agreement on all of the Shell and Motiva Enterprises bargaining tables.

Motiva Enterprises is a joint venture between Shell and  Saudi Aramco.

“Our expectation is that other employers will offer the same terms at their local bargaining tables,” Shell said.

The local unions will then review the employers’ proposals with USW vice president Gary Beevers.

Approved settlement agreements will then be submitted to local membership for explanation and ratification votes.


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