Hundreds of refinery workers on strike
CONVENT - Hundreds of workers at a refinery and chemical plant in our area went on strike early Sunday morning.
Those part of the United Steelworkers union are on strike at Motiva and Shell plants in Norco and Convent, Louisiana about concerns regarding low staffing numbers at the plants, health concerns for people who claim to be overworked and they want higher pay. Strikers say they'll be picketing every day, and don't plan to stop until their concerns are resolved.
Bradley Couvillion has spent the past 16 years working at Motiva in Convent, Louisiana, but now he's demanding change.
"This supports my family," said Couvillion, who is now one of the strikers outside of the Motiva facility. "I have a wife and two kids, and I want to come home safe every day, and that's all there is to it."
Close to 800 workers at two sites have walked off the job to go on strike. The USW International Union claims their main issue is the larger amount of overtime workers have to work with few days off and the lack of staff in maintenance and operations at these facilities, which they claim contributes to the overtime issue workers face.
United Steelworkers local representative says most plant workers find themselves working close to a thousand hours a year in just overtime.
"The fourteenth or fifteenth hour in a day, if your working a lot of overtime... how effective are you?" said Brent Petit, local representative for USW International Union. "You're going to make some mistakes, and we want people to be fresh and not making these kinds of mistakes."
However, Shell isn't buying the claims by the union. The company says it put up many offers on the table about safety and fatigue concerns, but the USW International Union turned them down. Motiva directed our questions to Shell.
Shell sent a statement to its employees and workers on Saturday. Part of the statement says "we have engaged in productive negotiations regarding each of these issues." Shell says they believe union leader are just continuing their demand to hire USW-represented employees to handle maintenance equipment instead of outside contractors from other states and countries.
Maintenance was yet another issue USW representatives didn't deny, but that they are also demanding to change.
"We want our staff, our maintenance, with our folks," said Petit. "These are our plants and our communities, and we want to be responsible."
The implications for the community are unknown at this time but will be determined by how long the strike will last. There are 15 refineries in the country that are part of this national strike. If you would like to see Shell's statement you can click here.