WAFB (USW press release reprinted): USW Oil Workers Ratify National Oil Bargaining Policy

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BEAUMONT, Texas, Nov. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers (USW) members at oil facilities nationwide overwhelmingly ratified the National Oil Bargaining (NOB) policy, the union's national contract proposal, during a 45-day period after delegates to the September oil bargaining conference adopted it.

"The ratification vote showed that there is strong support for the policy the delegates developed in September and that the membership is committed to reaching a fair agreement," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

The policy covers health and safety, wage, benefit, and contract language issues.

"We think this is a fair proposal and that it addresses the problems we're finding in the industry's approach to safety and health," said USW International Vice President Gary Beevers, who heads the union's National Oil Bargaining program.

Extensive health and safety language is being proposed to address the numerous accidents within the oil sector. Since Feb. 1, 2009-the date the current pattern settlement began-through Nov. 10, 2011 we are aware of 138 fires. In that time there have been 18 workplace deaths that we know of.

According to the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which recently issued a report on refinery accidents, there were 354 accidents in Louisiana in 2010. Data in the report came from refinery reports to the state.

"The oil industry can't continue down this path," Beevers said. "Our proposal addresses safety and health issues and offers solutions to this continuing problem."

The National Oil Bargaining pattern agreement expires Feb. 1, 2012 at 12:01 a.m.

The USW represents 30,000 workers at 168 production, refining, marketing, transportation, pipeline and petrochemical facilities nationwide, including 69 refineries representing about 64 percent of U.S. refining capacity.

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and has 850,000 members in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. The union represents workers employed in metal 

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