Environmental groups join oil refinery workers in the picket line

Published: Feb. 25, 2015 at 11:58 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Oil refinery workers in St. Charles Parish continue to picket as part of a nationwide strike. On Wednesday, several environmental groups plan to join the picket line.

Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club New Orleans Chapter and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, announced that they will join members of the United Steelworkers Union.

Some 800 oil refinery workers in Norco and Convent, Louisiana began their strike on Sunday, demanding better safety procedures from oil companies nationwide. The United Steelworkers say they'll go without pay for as long as it takes.

The strike began nationwide on February 1. Talks began with Shell Corporation, the lead negotiator for the oil companies, on January 31 when the current contract expired. So far, they've been unsuccessful.

The union initially started a work stoppage back on February 1 at 11 different facilities across the country. On Saturday, workers at three plants in Louisiana decided to join the movement.

The United Steelworkers Union is in negotiations for a better fatigue policy from oil companies across the country, arguing workers are often so tired, it puts their jobs and the community at risk.

"This is about the safety of our employees as well as the community and the environment," said Brent Petit, United Steelworkers Staff Representative. "It is not uncommon for operators to work four, five, six, up to 1,000 hours of overtime a year. That's averaging over 60 hours a week. You can't make good decisions when you're that tired."

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Sierra Club both say they support the strike because they want safe conditions at these oil facilities.

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