USW Oil Workers: Our Health and Safety is at Stake

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Health and safety issues have always been a big priority in the National Oil Bargaining Program. Over the years, we’ve had success forcing companies to recognize the union and union-selected representatives as partners in addressing health and safety issues. However, management at many facilities is still unwilling to cooperate and in many cases has found ways to manipulate fatigue standards to force excessive hours and strip members of overtime pay.

Health & Safety Bargaining History

In a first major victory in 1973 we were successful in establishing Joint Labor-Management Health and Safety Committees. At the time, Shell refused to bargain over health and safety issues. This led 4,000 members to go on a four-month strike that ultimately forced Shell to submit to the national pattern agreement on safety.

Since then, we’ve secured company-paid health and safety training and union representatives. This includes union-selected Process Safety Representatives at facilities with more than 150 members and, at some locations, additional Local Union Health and Safety Representatives paid by the company.

Fatigue Management

Fatigue management is critical to our safety at work. We’ve made some progress over the years, but many companies continue to ignore or manipulate the industry standards. As a step toward addressing this issue, the 2015 agreement included language requiring companies to meet with the union to discuss implementation of the Recommended Practice for fatigue management. While some locations had success working with management, many are still facing excessive hours, overuse of exceptions and lost pay.

Health & Safety Goals in 2019 National Oil Bargaining

The adopted National Oil Bargaining Policy includes several items aimed at protecting oil workers’ health and safety on the job. Our ability to achieve these goals will depend on our strength and solidarity at the bargaining table and on the shop floor.

  • Additional Process Safety and Health & Safety Representatives, including at sites with less than 150 members
  • Ensure the union has input at all sites on job training and curriculum development
  • Greater protections for pipeline workers responding to remote locations and performing high-risk work
  • The union and company should work together to develop site-specific Fatigue Risk Management Systems with clear compensation guidelines

Text OIL to 47486 for the latest news from bargaining.