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Tentative Labor Deal Averts Western Wash. Refinery Strikes

ConocoPhillips oil refinery at Cherry Point, Wash. Photo by Tom Banse
ConocoPhillips oil refinery at Cherry Point, Wash. Photo by Tom Banse

The United Steelworkers union has reached a tentative deal with oil companies to avert a possible strike at dozens of refineries, including three important ones in the Northwest.

Negotiations over a new labor contract for refinery workers concluded mere hours before a late night deadline. The United Steelworkers and Shell Oil announced a tentative three-year deal that's intended to set the pattern for local agreements at unionized refineries nationwide.

That includes the big ConocoPhillips refinery near Ferndale, Washington, Tesoro in Anacortes and US Oil in Tacoma. Those are the sources for much of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel sold in the Northwest.

A union source indicated the new contract includes pay raises in each of the next three years. There were no immediate details on how another sticking point was resolved.

Union negotiators were pushing to strengthen workplace safety at refineries. The new contract still needs approval from the union membership.

On the Web:

United Steelworkers press release:

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.
Tom Banse
Tom Banse covers business, environment, public policy, human interest and national news across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be heard during "Morning Edition," "Weekday," and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.