TEXAS CITY, Texas – Hourly workers at Marathon Petroleum Corp’s Galveston Bay, Texas, refinery voted on Monday to continue a strike, rejecting a contract proposal developed by a federal mediator aimed at ending a stoppage that has lasted three-and-a-half months.
The workers voted by secret ballot at their Texas City, Texas, union hall within sight of the giant Marathon refining complex, which dominates the skyline.
Officials of United Steelworkers union Local 13-1, which represents the strikers, said nearly 900 striking workers had voted and the proposal was overwhelmingly rejected. They declined further discussion on the vote.
A union official said the proposal sought to remove too many protections from the more than 1,000 members on strike.
“There are too many takeaways at one time,” Local 13-1 Vice President Larry Burchfield said after announcing the results to more than 100 cheering union members at the union hall on Monday night. “That has really solidified the membership.”
Burchfield said the union was ready to meet with Marathon and a federal mediator to renew negotiations for a contract.
A Marathon representative was not immediately available to discuss the vote.
The stoppage at the Galveston Bay Refinery has become especially bitter as the union said the company was pushing proposals that would eliminate job security and roll back safety policies put in place after an explosion that killed 15 workers in 2005, when the plant was owned by BP Plc.
The Galveston Bay strike began on Feb. 1 as part of the largest walkout by U.S. refinery and chemical plant workers in 35 years. The national stoppage spread to 15 plants, including 12 refineries that account for one-fifth of U.S. capacity.
An agreement on national issues, including pay and benefits, was reached between the USW and U.S. refinery owners on March 12 and strikes at 13 plants ended after outstanding local issues were resolved.
The proposal rejected on Monday was based on an offer the company made in April that was rejected by Local 13-1.
In addition to the Marathon Galveston Bay strike, workers remain on strike at the Toledo, Ohio refinery co-owned by BP and Husky Energy.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Terry Wade and Alan Raybould)
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