January 28, 2012 / 11:53 PM / in 6 years

Union says refinery workers strike more likely

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The United Steelworkers union warned on Saturday that a strike by U.S. refinery workers as early as 12 a.m. Wednesday was becoming more likely due to ”the lack of a more substantive response from the industry.

Union and oil company negotiators have been meeting since January 17 to hammer out a new three-year agreement for workers at nearly two-thirds of U.S. refining capacity.

The Steelworkers union has warned that the lack of improved safety protections for workers at the nation’s refineries could bring about the first nationwide strike since 1980.

As much as 11 percent of U.S. refining capacity could temporarily shut due to a strike lasting three months, sources have said.

Industry analysts have said they thought the chances of a strike were slim.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; editing by Christopher Wilson

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