The Oilworker: January 2020


From the NOBP Chair

Brothers and Sisters,

I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and I want to wish all a happy New Year. As we go into this contract “midyear,” we must continue to work and prepare for bargaining; it’s especially important that we’re using this time to educate and build our Local Unions. During the upcoming oil conference in March, we hope to provide the groups with some tools to do just that.

Even though it’s the middle year of the contract for many of you, for some, the hard work at the table continues. The BP Husky Lima group is still at the table fighting on local issues. PBF finalized its purchase of the Shell Martinez Refinery this month, and we have just completed the benefits bargaining per the Successorship Letter of Agreement. Our BP group in Alaska, soon to be Hilcorp, is gathering information in order to begin the process of bargaining benefits. These are just a few examples from across the industry in which we are continuously fighting and defending our contracts.

The union has been in contact with many of the stakeholders involved in the sale of Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which shut its doors last year. While there is still not much new information to share, we remain committed to working with any employer who shares our interest in keeping the refinery open and preserving good, family-sustaining jobs.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this month cited PES for a serious violation of process safety management (PSM). OSHA found problems with the refinery’s PSM program, including “failing to establish or implement written procedures, insufficient hazard analysis and inadequate inspection of process equipment for highly hazardous chemicals used in the process.” PES faces a fine.

There are reports this month that in addition to PES six other U.S. refineries are currently up for sale, including Royal Dutch Shell’s Anacortes, Wash., facility. Despite record production, many appear to be unable to attract buyers.

In other industry news, there are also reports that U.S. refineries and petrochemical plants are reducing their insurance coverage. Rates, especially for those that have seen an explosion or fire, have spiked as much as 100 percent.

Finally, I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to fill out the union’s membership survey and urge those of you who have not yet had this opportunity to do so. Please see the following message from International President Tom Conway for more information.

In solidarity,

Mike Smith
NOBP Chair


This is your union, and your voice matters. That's why we're embarking on an effort this year to hear from as many of you as possible.

This is very important to me and our entire executive board. It's especially important as we head into an election that impacts the work we do as a union: bargaining and enforcing good contracts to secure fair wages, dependable benefits, and safe working conditions.

Whether we like it or not, workplace health and safety; wage and overtime regulations; retirement security; and our right to organize and bargain collectively are all tied to local, state, and federal laws and the people making them.

We want to work together to endorse and elect the right people, and that starts with determining which candidates’ values best align with ours as a union. To do this, we need to look at their backgrounds, past voting records, and ask them directly with our candidate questionnaire.

Learn more about how we can get this done and tell us what matters to you by taking our survey -- you can find it all and more on our USW Voices website.

In solidarity,

Tom Conway
USW International President


Has your local organized a group of workers, won an award, participated in a community event, won an arbitration, helped achieve a legislative victory, settled a safety issue, etc.?

Please contact Jess Kamm at or (Office) 412-562-2444.

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