Published in thestand.org on Saturday, March 21, 2015
ANACORTES -- More than 100 union members and community supporters rallied Saturday in support of Tesoro Anacortes oil refinery workers who have been out on strike since Feb. 1. At the rally, local negotiators for the United Steelworkers union (USW) said that a tentative agreement was reached Friday on terms for returning to work. Refinery workers will vote on Monday, March 23 and the union is recommending ratification of the deal.
I can’t explain how much it means to us to have so much labor and community support,” said Ryan Anderson, Unit Chairman of USW Local 12-591 who served as lead negotiator at the local bargaining table. “This wasn’t a fight we wanted, it was a fight they picked with us.”
On March 12, the USW announced a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract with Shell Oil as a pattern agreement for the rest of the industry. The proposed deal reportedly includes annual wage increases and contains language addressing the USW’s safety concerns about worker fatigue and performance of routine maintenance by contractors rather than union members.
Since that deal was reached, the strike continued as local bargaining committees negotiated with Tesoro over unresolved local issues. A deal at Tesoro Anacortes was finally reached Friday. If the members ratify the agreement on Monday, the strike will end, and they will return to work.
“Thank you to all the folks who hold the line and will continue to hold the line until Monday, and after, depending on how the vote goes,” Anderson said at Saturday’s rally, which included fire fighters, teachers, Teamsters, state employees, longshore workers, and many others showing their support. “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, told those in attendance that supporting each other is the key to winning stronger contracts and better working conditions.
“When we work as a union, we are strong,” Johnson said. “When we work with other unions, we are even stronger. But when unions work together with their community partners, we are stronger still, and we win!”
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