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Oil Workers Scoring New Contract

HOUSTON - A tentative contract was reached on 2/3/08 between industry lead negotiator Shell Oil Co. and the United Steelworkers Union (USW) averting a strike for now. The contract must be ratified by union membership. It would cover 30,000 workers nationwide, including 4,200 in the Houston area. Workers will earn a 3 % raise each year for the next three years along with a $2,500 contract ratification bonus.

USW President, Leo Gerard, said "These were tough negotiations given the economic conditions of an economy still in total free-fall." He went on to point out, "The oil companies were not willing to work with us fully to improve process safety."

Individual plants must hammer out their own contracts with employees. This will happen over the next few months as individual contracts expire. Unions plan to continue to press to resolve worker safety issues.

Interestingly, the Houston Chronicle ran an article detailing the tremendous, record-breaking profits reaped by Exxon Mobil in 2008. The article relates, "Exxon Mobil again broke its own record for highest annual profits ever by a U.S. company, pulling in $45.2 billion in 2008, an 11 percent jump over 2007's $40.6 billion." The fact that the Steelworkers threatened to strike and faced the company down was very significant, given the situation in the industry and the world economy.

By James Thompson

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