More than 500 workers at Chevron’s Richmond refinery walked off the job at 12:01 a.m. Monday after members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5 voted down Chevron’s most recent contract proposal.
The refinery produces gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and lubricating oils – a strike there fueling concerns of a possible future constriction of supply. Industry experts say the refinery provides about 13 percent of California’s production capacity.
Gas prices in California are already the highest in the country at more than $5.84 cents a gallon according to AAA.
According to a press release from USW Local 5, the union “encouraged Chevron to return to the bargaining table, but it refused, forcing workers to give notice of their intent to begin an unfair labor practice strike on March 21 at 12:01 a.m.”
The previous contract between the union and Chevron expired Feb. 1, and members have been working on a rolling 24-hour extension.
Chevron has argued its contract offer is “fair, competitive, and responsive to USW concerns. We have negotiated in good faith for months, reaching two tentative agreements that were rejected by the union, and we are ready to continue discussions with USW so we can reach an equitable agreement. However, the union’s demands exceeded what the company believes to be reasonable and moved beyond what was agreed to as part of the national pattern bargaining agreement…”
The company said it is ready to continue its operations in Richmond and is “fully prepared to continue normal operations to safely and reliably provide the products that consumers need. We anticipate no issues in maintaining a reliable supply of products to the market. Chevron remains committed to safe operations for our workers and communities.”