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Behind every drop of the nation’s black gold is the blood, sweat and tears of union workers. Today U.S. oil workers are on strike, in the largest walkout since 1980. After contract talks broke down on Sunday, United Steelworkers launched a work stoppage at nine refinery sites, representing an estimated 10 percent of the country’s refining capacity. So far only one refinery has been fully shuttered, but if the strike spreads to all USW members, nearly two-thirds of total domestic fuel production could be halted.
The union was pushing back against Royal Dutch Shell, which had been bargaining on behalf of various companies, on critical workplace safety problems as well as issues involving health benefits and the use of temp labor. We spoke to Steve Garey, president of United Steelworkers local 12-591 in Mount Vernon, WA, about what’s at stake for USW workers, the decision to strike, and how the industry has undermined worker safety over the years and put us all at risk.
In our news roundup, we loook at Syriza’s backlash against “free trade” in Greece, a bill for cheerleader equity in California, the fight against sexual harassment at Ford, and a win for domestic worker justice in Lebanon. And we recommend reading on emotional labor at McDonald’s and peak everything in China.
Women Sue Ford Over Sexual Harassment (Labor Notes)
Region’s first domestic workers union fights for life (The Daily Star)
Steve Garey, United Steelworkers local 12-591
US oil workers strike over pay, benefits and safety (Al Jazeera America)
Refinery Shuts as U.S. Oil Workers Strike Reaches Second Day (Bloomberg Business)
Argh, I Wish I’d Written That!
Michelle: Matt Sheehan, China Nears Peak Coal, But Its Rustbelt Pays the Price (The World Post)
Sarah: Bryce Covert, A Job at McDonald’s Now Includes Singing and Dancing on Demand (The Nation)