Tentative labor agreements reached at 2 refineries

2012-02-01T11:04:00Z 2012-02-15T16:35:56Z Tentative labor agreements reached at 2 refineriesBy CLAIR JOHNSON cjohnson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Refinery and union officials said Wednesday that they have reached tentative labor agreements at the ConocoPhillips and CHS plants.

Talks are continuing at the ExxonMobil refinery in Lockwood.

Pam Malek, a spokeswoman for the refinery, said union leadership granted a 48-hour contract extension that expires after 11:59 p.m. on Friday.

Wade Johnson, president of the United Steelworkers International union at ConocoPhillips, said, “We have a tentative agreement. We expect to have a vote with the ConocoPhillips group on or about the 14th.”

Travis Sloan, a spokesman for ConocoPhillips, also said the parties had reached a tentative agreement, with work continuing pending ratification of the contract.

Local and national refinery and USW negotiations occur concurrently on contracts that expire every three years. The old contract expired at midnight Tuesday.

Nationally, refining companies, led by Shell Oil Co., and the USW announced an agreement Tuesday evening for another three-year contract.

Johnson said the local ConocoPhillips group will vote on the national and local agreements as a package.

Johnson also said talks were continuing with the ExxonMobil refinery. “They’re slated to talk again today,” he said.

“We continue to engage in good-faith negotiations with the union,” Malek said.

The USW put ExxonMobil on notice that it would strike at the Billings refinery if an agreement is not reached and sent a similar notice to the Valero Energy Corp. regarding a refinery in Texas.

Keith Crookston, union local president for the CHS refinery, said the union and refinery reached a tentative agreement on local issues on Tuesday.

The union will be presenting the international offer to the company either Wednesday or Thursday, he said. A ratification vote could occur in about a week, he said.

CHS spokeswoman Lani Jordan said she did not have an update on the talks.

The refineries are Class 7 employers, meaning they each employ between 250 to 500 workers, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.



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