Louisiana residents should be interested to know that the four month work strike put on by the United Steel Workers employees has finally come to an end. The workers had gone on strike in protest of unfair labor practices at the Marathon Petroleum’s Galveston Bay Refinery. The refinery was one of 15 sites nationally that have finally succeeded in reaching an agreement between the United Steel Workers and the plant operators. The workers were scheduled to return to work the week following the Independence Day national holiday.

The strike initially was at a few sites but went national when it spread to all 15 refineries nationwide as well as some chemical plants and a cogeneration plant. Once the strike went national, it involved about 7,000 employees in total. Of the 15 plants that went on strike, three of them were located in Louisiana, two Motiva plants in Norco and Convent, as well as a Shell chemical plant also located in Norco.

The negotiations were mediated by a federal mediator working to resolve the longstanding dispute raised by the workers against the plant refinery, which was represented by Shell negotiators.

The negotiations at the Marathon Petroleum’s Galveston Bay Refinery were prolonged because of complications arising from the fact that the previous agreement was not approved by Marathon but was negotiated with BP, which Marathon chose not to honor.

Marathon decided to use a different approach entirely in dealing with the union when it acquired the plant from BP. BP sold the plant to raise capital to cover costs that it incurred in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon platform disaster that took place back in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.

These kinds of contract disputes between management and labor unions arise often in a business. Business contracts can be challenging to negotiate, and resolving disputes requires tact and good negotiation skills to resolve.

Source: The Advertiser, “USW, refinery strikes end with last site in Texas,” Ken Stickney, June 25, 2015