OREGON (AP) — Workers in northwest Ohio have joined the first nationwide strike at U.S. oil refineries since 1980.
The Blade newspaper of Toledo reported that some 100 BP-Husky Toledo refinery workers began picketing at midnight outside the plant in Oregon, Ohio. A local union official said Saturday night that some 350 workers would be on strike and planned to have picketing around the clock.
“They’re discouraged that the strike is happening, bu they understand why it has to happen,” said Bryan Sidel, financial secretary of the local.
The United Steelworkers union earlier notified BP Plc. that workers at refineries in Ohio and Indiana would join a walkout that began Feb. 1 at nine other refineries.
A BP spokesman said the company expects to continue operating with replacement workers and doesn’t expect a significant effect on production.
The strike began after steelworkers said that negotiations with Shell Oil Co. had broken down. Shell is negotiating the national contract for other oil companies.
The union has said workers want better health care benefits and limits on the use of contractors to replace union members in maintenance jobs. She said wages are not an issue.
“BP is disappointed that USW leadership decided to call a strike at both the Whiting Refinery and BP-Husky Toledo Refinery,” said BP spokesman Scott Dean by email. He said BP remained at the negotiating table and wanted a deal that “provides good wages while giving management the flexibility it needs” to remain competitive.
BP’s plant in Whiting, Indiana, has about 1,860 employees, more than 1,000 represented by the steelworkers. BP’s Toledo refinery in Ohio, which it owns 50-50 with Canada’s Husky Energy, has some 600 workers total.
The plants will be staffed by replacements including retirees and former front-line workers who now hold salaried jobs, Dean said.