USW Local 624 ratifies agreement with Husky

By Mackenzi Klemann -

LIMA — The United Steelworkers Local 624 has ratified its contract with Husky Lima Refinery, concluding a 17-month negotiation process that spanned a pandemic and partial shutdown.

The new agreement secured several key issues for Local 624 leadership, including the ability for shift workers — who work rotating day and night schedules—to trade shifts and more clear separation of duties and training for new hires, who Local 624 President Michael Edelbrock said had previously floated around to various roles at the refinery without proper training.

The agreement also secured pay increases for each of the three contract years, two of which will be paid retroactively, 401K adjustments and double-time holiday and Sunday pay for some departments.

The final votes were tallied Thursday evening, after two weeks of voting.

Negotiations were unlike anything Edelbrock has witness throughout his career.

The Lima Refinery went on strike for four months in 2012 — an experience which Edelbrock has repeatedly told The Lima News he wanted to avoid during this contract — but negotiations for the latest agreement dragged on for nearly 17 months, or half the length of the contract period itself.

Local 624 almost came to an agreement in March, but the union rejected the proposal and continued bargaining right as the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold in Ohio.

“It was one more thing,” Edelbrock said, as the refinery adapted to the reality of the pandemic while still operating under 24-hour rolling contract extensions that started in April 2019. And it all occured just months after the Lima Refinery finished its crude oil flexibility project.

Total vote tallies were not made public, but Edelbrock confirmed a majority of votes approved ratification.

The contract, which covers about 220 members of Local 624, ends in April 2022.

By Mackenzi Klemann

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