Wednesday, June 23, 2010

13 Fires, 19 Deaths and 22 Injuries

To our membership,
From April of 2010 to May of 2010, within our oil industry, there have been 13 fires, 19 deaths and 22 injuries. That is too many. One is too many. We cannot rely or wait on the Government to legislate our safety. We cannot rely on the company to manage our safety, and we cannot wait on our International Union to empower our safety within our refinery. It is up to us to make our workplace safer. It is up to us to ensure that no one comes to work, and doesn't go home. We are the ones who are going to make the difference.
Last week in Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to hear from some of the workers at the Tesoro refinery where 7 people killed in a refinery incident. Others spoke about the same thing, which was, "it won't happen here." We here at the Ponca City refinery know too well how it is to lose a fellow employee. I don't want to see that happen again.
The company says that is every ones responsibility to stop work that is unsafe. They say that every one has the right to shut down a unit if it honestly appears to be in an unsafe condition. Your union believes it is our responsibility to do these things. We must protect the lives of each other first and foremost! Remember, it is up to us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Election Results

In accordance with USW bylaws, all offices with multiple contenders, must be won by a majority vote (50% plus 1). Three positions had multiple contenders. The results are as follows:

Chief Operations Steward: Larry Turney (by a majority)

North Plant Steward: Kara Hill (by a majority)

JH&SC Chief Operations Steward: Aron Payne (by a majority)

No run-off elections are necessary due to all three of these positions meeting the majority threshold.
All other positions had single nominees, hence they met the majority threshold.
Congratulations to all!

In addition, due to the success of this weblog (which was started one year ago today) and the feedback we've received from our membership, we will be continuing to use this weblog for information, education and vital news pertaining to our membership. Please continue to check this site regularly for updates.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Get out and vote this Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010!!!

Also, there is a new edition of the Oil Worker available online. Look under the links section on the right, under Oil Bargaining.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Upcoming Elections and Working Up

At our regularly scheduled membership meeting in January, the first Tuesday of the month, we will be taking nominations for all elected positions, followed by a 13 hour poll later in the month for those positions. If you know of someone interested in running for a Union Leadership position, please attend this meeting and submit their name.
The Workman's Committee would like to announce to our membership, that our request to you to step down from working up-rate jobs in Maintenance and Operations, is hereby withdrawn, upon the ratification of our new contract.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ratification Vote Results

To Our Membership,
Tonight, Monday December 14th, 2009, the Membership voted to accept the agreement.

Ratification Vote Today

Reminder: Please remember to come and vote on the tentative agreement from 6 am until 7 pm.

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 4th, 2009 Update

Agreement in Principle
Your committee would like to announce to you that we have a tentative agreement with ConocoPhillips for a 3 year contract effective April 1st, 2009. We are close to having a contract pending these next steps:
1) Your committee will be proofreading the written language on Monday December 7th, 2009, line by line, to ensure the integrity of the agreement.
2) Thursday, December 10th, 2009, we will be having an informational meeting starting at 4:15 p.m. to present the tentative agreement to you, the membership.
3) Monday, December 14th, 2009, we will be having a 13 hour ratification vote as long as there are no unforeseen problems with the proofreading of the written language.
We are also cancelling the informational picket scheduled for next week.
We would like to also acknowledge the support and good vibes we received from our fellow Council Groups, Billings Refinery, Trainer Refinery, Ferndale Refinery, Lake Charles Refinery, Bayway Refinery, Los Angeles Refinery, Santa Maria Refinery, Rodeo Refinery, Borger Refinery and Alliance Refinery. Your support for us was greatly appreciated and vital to our struggle.
The Bargaining Committee

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Update for Wednesday, December 3, 2009

To Our Membership,
Today, your committee met with representatives of the company, in an effort to resolve the remaining issues that have continued to persist in our attempt to reach a fair and just agreement.
The discussion between the two parties took place in sidebar, with the company refusing out of hand, our two proposals, with no discussion , or counterproposals.
We shall meet again tomorrow morning with the intention of going forward with alternatives and ideas that can satisfy both the needs of the company and the needs of the membership. Our goal, as it has been since February, is to bring you a satisfactory agreement for ratification.
Your Committee

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Informational Picket

Your Union is seeking support for the Informational Picket planned for Wednesday December 2nd, 2009. We would like to have a good turnout, so if at all possible, make plans to participate. Thank you.

Your Information Committee and Bargaining Committee

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dates of Note

November 24th, 2009- There will be an Informational Picket from 3:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
November 25th, 2009- Informational Committee meeting at 4:15 p.m. at the Union Hall. All members interested in helping out the committee are asked to attend this meeting.
December 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 2009- Bargaining Committee to resume goal of gaining a fair and equitable contract.

Please let others know of these important upcoming dates.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Information Committee and Other News

November 12th, there will a meeting of the Information Committee at the Union Hall, at 1:00 p.m. Anyone willing to volunteer is asked to attend this meeting. We need people to help in making signs as well as ideas for slogans... such as "Houston, we have a problem".

Informational Picket walks are planned for tomorrow, Wednesday November 11th, 2009 and Thursday November 12th, 2009 starting at 4:00 p.m.

The bargaining committee has hard dates for meeting with the company's representatives. Those dates are December 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 2009.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Video Link

Here is a link to the video from this past weeks informational picket.

Informational Picket Walks

We will be having more informational picket walks on November 5th and 6th and again on November 11th and 12th, from 3:45 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Information Updates

COP Informational Walks will be held October 29th and 30th from 4pm-6pm.

COP Bargaining Unit:
Because we want to be certain no member is without medical coverage in the event of a strike, please go to the USW Local 13-857 link on the right side of this page where you will find information concerning the union healthcare plan. Determine which plan option best fits your needs, complete either the enrollment form or the waiver of coverage and return it to the Hall as soon as possible. The cost of the medical coverage will be taken out of the Strike Pay we receive from USW International.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Changes to the Blog

The bargaining committee has made the decision that for the interim, information pertaining to contract negotiations shall be made available at informational meetings at the Union Hall.
Do continue to check this blog on a regular basis, for information pertaining to bargaining committee dates, information committee meeting dates and information committee messages.
Your Bargaining Committee

Next Information Committee Meeting

To our Membership,
The Information Committee will be having another meeting this Sunday, October 25th, 2009 at 5:00 P.M. at the Union Hall. All parties interested in serving with this committee should make arrangements to attend.
The Information Committee

Information Committee Meeting

To our Membership,
Today, at 2:00 P.M., there will be a meeting of the Information Committee. They are seeking volunteers to participate in upcoming informational activities. If you are interested in participating, please make arrangements to attend. We do need your help.
Your Bargaining Committee

Monday, October 19, 2009

Negotiations Update Meeting

To our Membership,
Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 20th, 2009, we will be having an update meeting at 5:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Please spread the word around, due to the short notice. Your committee wants to have some time with you to communicate the status of this round of negotiations. Thank you.
Your Committee

Monday, October 12, 2009

Update for October 12th, 2009

To our membership,
We met with representatives of the company starting at 10:00 a.m. The meeting began with a summation of the previous meetings, including the "conceptual" idea's discussed. Our rep. intimated once again, that for our committee to truly know whether we have agreements or not, it has to be in writing. The company refuses, still, to put anything in writing, except perhaps in the form of a "total package".
The company maintained today, that it is there intention to continue to fill maintenance jobs as they come open. We questioned that commitment due to the fact that so many maintenance jobs have been cut with the recent rash of retirements. They responded that it is still their "intent" to maintain the maintenance numbers. No progress was made on this issue.
The Union intimated our desire to retain the Voluntary List for handling scheduled and unscheduled overtime with the 8 hour shift. The company acknowledged the proposal, with no response. No progress on that issue.
The Union handed the company a counter proposal to the company's proposal on changing the current drug and alcohol policy. We believe that this is a subject of mandatory bargaining due to the effect on terms and conditions of employment, the company objected, yet will review our proposal prior to next Monday's meeting. No progress made on that issue.
There was no discussion on any of the other remaining issues. The meeting adjourned at 5:00 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 19th followed by the 20th and 21st.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Stand-by?

At tonights regularly scheduled membership meeting, there was much discussion surrounding the company's insistence on operator stand-by, and why it is necessary.
By their own admission, this year there hasn't been one instance of an 18 hour shift worked. Not one. Last year, there were 3 or 4 instances. Still, a very low number.
As you are aware, the current "draft" of the fatigue standard, that the company continues to refer to, actually allows for 18 hour shifts. It also directs how it is to be handled. If the fatigue standard allows for 18 hour shifts, which we are already doing, then what is the need for operator stand-by? It isn't necessary.
A North Plant operator brought up the fact that in discussions with several different managers, the subject turned to staffing. He stated that the company believes we are overstaffed. That our current Solomon number has us at 5.2 operators per post. And that Solomon believes we should be at 4.8 operators per post. So what would it take to get us to their target?
Cutting approximately 50 positions would get them to their magic number. Where would you cut though?
We have around 56 replacement positions throught out the refinery. If the company were to cut the units down to around 2 replacements per progression, then they could be at their goal, or close to it. Being cut back that deep, however, would make filling the normal vacancies that exist almost impossible to fill. Hence, operations standby.
As it stands right now, the operations stand-by that was proposed and withdrawn by the company, is not necessary. So the question of why they are insisting on it needs to be asked. We believe that the 12 hour shift schedule is preferable to both parties, and that our operators have done their job in covering their jobs. If the fatigue standard is not the reason for stand-by, then what is?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dates to Remember

Our next membership meeting is this Tuesday, October 6th, 2009. The two committee's will meet to resume negotiations on Monday, October 12th, and again on Monday the 19th, Tuesday the 20th and Wednesday the 21st.

Letter from the Committee

To our Membership,
In the early sessions of contract negotiations, the company introduced a written proposal on standby language. This proposal was later withdrawn, however, the company has recently attempted to reintroduce the proposal verbally. Remember that there have been no written proposals submitted by the company since April.
The companies original reason for this proposal was that the fatigue standard would prohibit 18 hour shifts, and that they needed a mechanism to cover vacancies.
Now their position has changed.
They believe it would be all right to work a limited number of 18 hour shifts, but just not too many. The fatigue standard excuse no longer rings true.
Operations has done a good job of covering these vacancies. There have been, by the companies own admission, no 18 hour shifts this year. And very few in previous years. It has been a rare occurrence. If it is a rare occurrence and if it is in fact o.k. to work an occasional 18 hour shift, then why is standby needed?
Either it is o.k. to work an 18 hour shift, or it is not. If it is o.k., the why is standby needed?
If we are covering these vacancies, despite the elimination of the utility operator, Lead operator, and the inadequate number of trained operators in some areas, they why should the operators be expected to perform standby? They have covered their jobs.
Your Committee

Friday, September 11, 2009

Article 19-7 Meeting

To our Members,
Today, the Workman's Committee and our International Representative met to discuss, and attempt to resolve the issues with the 12 hour shift schedule, as required by Article 19-7 of our rolling contract. That was the sole purpose of today's meeting.
Our spokesperson explained to the company representatives that you, our membership, had already said no to the operations standby, and we were here to discuss other options and make proposals.
Naturally, we brought up the fact that the utility operator was one option, which I don't recall even eliciting a response. Our International Rep then proceeded to walk through our proposals to avoid the need for Operations standby, for short notice vacancies.

  1. Voluntary list, as is used currently.
  2. Volunteers not on the Voluntary list.
  3. Move extra people on shift to the vacancy.
  4. Move daylight/Special Assignment Operators over to cover shift.
  5. Mandate day off workers to cover shift, as is the current practice.
  6. Split the vacancy to the 18 hours per the current company policy.
  7. Utilize other qualified team members to cover the rest period employees.

The purpose of proposal #7, is the company has received drafts of the API fatigue standard that USW was at one time working on, that specifies a 10 hour rest period for anyone who works 18 hours. What that means, is that once you have worked an 18 hour shift, if you are scheduled to be back the next day/night, you wouldn't be able to until 4 hours into your shift. Our proposal had another trained operator on the 18 hour workers team covering the first 4 hours of his return shift. The company stated that the proposals "looked good" to them, but that they had some suggestions on how to fit their needs.

The company stated concern for the number of 18 hour shifts worked, and we agreed, that any incident of an 18 hour shift occurring should be immediately investigated by the company and the Union to ensure that the above protocol had been met.

Then the meeting moved on to what I call the "triggers" portion of the meeting. There was discussion on how many occurrences would create a "trigger". We also questioned what the company considered an occurrence of an 18 hour shift. Would 1 person, calling in sick, trigger two occurrences of an 18 hour shift? Since 2 people were working the 18 hour shift? Or would the 1 vacancy be considered an occurrence? It was clear to me that 1 vacancy would cause 2 occurrences of 18 hour shifts. Which was the company's original Operations Standby "trigger" from the voted down last, best and final proposal the company had made previously. Which is what they referenced when we asked how many occurrences would be considered the "trigger".

It became clear to us that the "trigger" we were talking about, and the "trigger" they were referring to were two different "triggers". They were referring to Operations Standby, and we were referring to going to an 8 hour shift.

Our International Rep. pointed out that 8 hour shifts is going to happen, and we are trying to avoid that. We believe wholeheartedly, that if you, our Operations were given the chance, that shift coverage would be handled to avoid the 8 hour schedule, if indeed that was your desire. We believe wholeheartedly, that if the front line supervision were given the opportunity to properly schedule the shift teams, that short term vacancy's would not lead up to an 18 hour shift being worked. We simply asked that you be given the chance to handle their concern, and to take a leap of faith, with you the operations personnel. And that if the "trigger" was hit, then we would go to 8 hour shifts. Unfortunately, that was not good enough for this management group. They insisted, that to continue on with 12 hour shifts, operations standby as the result of a "trigger" was absolutely necessary for them. They stated, "We need a way to deal with them not answering their phone". That is a direct quote from the meeting.

Article 19-7, in our opinion, is the resolution if there is an issue with 12 hour shifts. We do not agree that placing operations personnel on a mandatory, unpaid standby where you are subject to discipline if they are unable to reach you, should trump Article 19-7.

We then moved into the issues of the 8 hour schedule. We believe that hours of work is a bargainable issue, the company disagrees. However, we are currently negotiating a new contract, an open contract, and it is our intention to discuss the 8 hour shift schedule at that table. We also have to questions of how shutdowns and turnarounds will be scheduled, how overtime will be filled (scheduled) and other effects of the change. We requested the company to give us a proposal of an 8 hour shift schedule if they had one, and they did not.

To summarize, we brought 7 (seven) proposals to the table, the company brought 0 (zero) and gave us not a single counter-proposal.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Awaiting Dates

As many of you know, we are currently waiting on notification of the next dates for our continuance with the ongoing contract negotiations. We will inform you as soon as we are made aware of the new dates.... Your Committee

Monday, August 31, 2009


Tomorrow at 4:30 p.m., until 6:00 p.m. we will be having our regularly scheduled Membership Meeting, as well as an update on the ongoing Contract Negotiations. Please make an effort to attend.