Striking steelworkers make slow return to Chevron Richmond Refinery
on June 1, 2022
After a nearly 10-week strike, about 500 steelworkers will gradually return to Chevron’s Richmond Refinery in the next four weeks, replacing contract workers hired to fill the gap left when workers walked off the job in March.
Their return comes after United Steelworkers Local 5 ratified a four-year contract with Chevron on Saturday, Jess Kamm Broomell, a union spokesperson, confirmed.
Neither the union nor the refinery has released details of the agreement.
Reuters reported that the new contract does not include the 5% increase workers wanted, though it does offer a $1,500 signing bonus — about $1,000 less than the company offered before the strike.
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In a news release on March 20, hours before the strike started, USW said its workers had been on the job without a contract since Feb. 1 and that on Feb. 25, the union had reached a “pattern” agreement with the oil industry on wages and working conditions. But each of USW’s 200 units bargain locally before a contract is ratified, the release noted.
Reuters had reported that Richmond workers were frustrated that the proposed pay increases did not cover rising health insurance costs, and that they wanted a 5% increase on top of the 12% that had been agreed upon nationally. Chevron has said that request “exceeded what the company believes to be reasonable.”
Chevron says it contributes about 80% of employees’ health care costs and that it continued paying that percentage even after the Kaiser Permanente health care option increased in the past year.
The refinery did not shut down during the strike and will now phase out the contract workers who filled in for striking union workers.
“The four-week staged return timing is designed to smoothly manage turnover across multiple crew schedules and fulfill specific compliance and training requirements,” said Chevron spokesperson Linsi Crain.
The Richmond plant has been refining oil on the banks of San Francisco Bay for 120 years, and today produces gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. According to its website, the refinery employs about 3,000 people and produces about 20% of Northern California’s gasoline.
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The information regarding the health insurance coverage is far from correct.