Fourth day of U.S. refineries strike ends with new offer

Wed Feb 4, 2015 11:11pm EST
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By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The United Steelworkers union (USW) said a new contract offer was made by lead oil company negotiator Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote) on Wednesday night as a strike by U.S. refinery workers ended its fourth day.

"The USW has received an offer and will respond after consideration of the offer tomorrow," USW spokeswoman Lynne Hancock said. "I don't know what time they will consider it. Contents of the offer will not be revealed."

About 4,000 workers at nine plants, including seven refineries accounting for 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity, continue to walk picket lines in California, Kentucky and Texas.

In a text message to members seen by news media late on Wednesday, the USW said: "minimal progress today."

Asked about the offer, a Shell spokesman simply said the two sides had continued negotiations on Wednesday.

The two camps have been in a stalemate since the USW called walkouts early on Sunday, saying Shell had left the negotiating table when talks broke down.

The talks have been tougher than in years past. A drop of more than 50 percent in oil prices since June has eroded profits at major oil companies, prompting executives to say they cannot afford to lift wages for workers.

Further walkouts may be ordered at some of the other refineries and chemical plants the USW represents if there is no progress in the talks, the union has said.   Continued...

Members of the United Steel Workers union picket the Tesoro refinery in Carson, California February 2, 2015. REUTERS/Bob Riha, Jr.