May Update from the NOBP Chair

This article originally appeared in The Oilworker, Issue 42. 

We are sending the call letter soon for the September National Oil Bargaining Program (NOBP) conference.  If there is a change in local or unit leadership, please ensure that the letter reaches the appropriate person(s).   

Also, please send to Julie and me the names of your newly elected officers as soon as possible.  For locations with turnover, I am scheduling meetings to give a briefing on the national oil bargaining process.  Having current contact information helps in reaching out to the correct person.

We are scheduling a Process Safety Representative training the week of August 6 at the Local 13-423 hall in Port Arthur, Texas.  We are sending a call letter out shortly, but wanted to give you a heads up since we have received inquiries about the next class. 

Our first NOBP kickoff sessions were conducted at our Andeavor local in Mandan, N.D., and our Suncor local in Denver.  Throughout the summer and fall, the strategic campaigns department is traveling to oil locals and helping them prepare for bargaining in 2019.  Please work with strategic campaigns staffers as they help the locals to get as many members as possible to attend these important kickoff sessions. 

One concern we heard from members when visiting locals to critique our 2015 bargaining preparation was that not enough information was shared. This round we have a new action program. We encourage all oil locals to participate in this process because it’s an essential step in preparing for bargaining.  

As we lead up to NOBP negotiations, we have received a number of contract extension requests from companies. This is not unusual. They were granted at times in the past, but so far this year, we have not entertained any such requests. 

It is my opinion that we can accomplish more being united and moving lockstep as a group than we can bargain separately.  That is why we push to negotiate as councils. It makes sense to bargain as one group since we have many of the same interests.

Last week we saw movement in a couple of areas where our union has fought hard to preserve our jobs.  The renewable fuel standard discussions between the ethanol and oil sectors resulted in a proposal that seems to be one the merchant refiners can support.  This proposal would allow sales of E-15 fuel year round and ethanol exports to qualify for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). This would add a large number of RINs to the market, giving a win to both sides.  The current discussions prompted RIN costs to drop to around 30 cents.  This is a significant reduction in costs for refiners. 

The other positive news was the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) recommendation to not reverse the flow of the Buckeye pipeline. This enables our Philadelphia-area refineries to continue moving product to the Pittsburgh area.   The downside is that Buckeye will have multi-directional flow capability, which increases the potential for moving product from the Midwest to Pittsburgh.  We must watch this situation closely since a refinery price war could cause a high volume of gasoline flowing from the Midwest to Pittsburgh and prompt the company to return to the PUC and argue that it is not receiving the full potential of the pipeline flow heading west out of Philadelphia.

I look forward to seeing many of you in the coming months as we prepare for our September NOBP conference to set oil policy.

In Solidarity,

Kim Nibarger
NOBP Chair
knibarger@usw.org
(Office) 412-562-2403

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