Hundreds of union workers at a Chevron oil refinery went on strike early on Monday in the San Francisco Bay area after negotiations broke down between the the oil company and its employees. More than 500 workers at the Chevron refinery, located in Richmond, California, refuse to go back to work. The workers are asking for a five percent pay increase based on area costs, Reuters reports, while Chevron claims the increase is an unreasonable demand.
Up until the strike, workers had been negotiating with Chevron over wage disputes and working conditions throughout the beginning of 2022 – in some cases, reportedly going as far back as January.
The United Steelworkers union represents the more than 500 employees, who’d kept working on the basis of rolling 24-hour extensions after their contract expired in early February. Both sides reached a tentative agreement, but local issues affecting some 200 bargaining units remained, the AP reports.
Among these issues was a sharp increase in the cost-of-living around the Bay Area and what workers felt was an unfairly high pay increase reserved, of course, for upper management, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
This marks the first labor dispute in over 40 years at the Chevron refinery; the last time this happened was in 1980, per Reuters. That previous walk-out was staged as part of a nation-wide protest, however, this latest strike has again drawn the attention of a wide audience due to the high prices of gasoline.
A few reports claim the strike could negatively impact gas prices in the Golden State, which are already among the highest in the country. Again, from Reuters:
California has some of the highest fuel prices in the nation with a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline on Sunday selling for $ 5,847 and a gallon of diesel for $ 6,258, according to motorist group AAA.
Or this, from the Associated Press:
The company said that refinery operations will continue despite the strike and that it does not anticipate any supply chain issues. If the strike were to shut down the refinery, that could negatively affect gasoline prices in California – which has the highest regular gas price in the nation at $ 5.86 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association.
Never mind that the strike began this Monday and was thereby preceded by the surge in gas prices by days, if not weeks. Never mind that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made the price of energy and fuel skyrocket around the world. And never mind that, despite the strike, Chevron claims its Richmond refinery will continue to operate because the company has already replaced the workers on strike with non-union staff.
Never mind any of that. Because if – or when – the price of gas goes up in California and the rest of the country, it will certainly be because refinery workers on the West Coast asked for a pay increase. Yup. Almost certainly.