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Letter to Employees: Status of Negotiations

Below are excerpts from an internal employee communication providing an update on the current status of negotiations with the United Steelworkers International Union:

One of Motiva’s owner companies, Shell Oil Company, is the lead negotiator for a labor agreement which will be patterned by Motiva and others in the industry. One month ago, Shell negotiators sat down at the bargaining table with the United Steelworkers International Union (USW).  The goals were – and still are – to reach an agreement that respects the needs and interests of employees and ensures the ongoing safety as well as economic health of the industry’s refineries and chemical plants.

To that end, over the past several weeks Shell has put seven offers on the negotiating table.  The USW International Union leaders have rejected all seven of them.  In addition, the USW leaders have ordered their members to strike at a total of 14 sites across the country – the newest sites including Motiva’s Port Arthur Refinery, Convent, and Norco refineries as well as Shell’s Norco chemical plant, which is operated by Motiva.

As these strikes occur, we’re grateful for the strong relationships Motiva has maintained with employees at our sites, which was demonstrated through the care and respect given during the handover to replacement workers.

We’re extremely disappointed that the USW International Union has seemed unwilling to achieve a timely and reasonable agreement. Motiva has already reached tentative agreements on local issues at all three of our refineries.  

Indeed, we’re seeing little evidence that the USW’s International leaders are interested in a meaningful settlement any time in the foreseeable future.  We note, also, that it is not clear that the USW International Union leaders share our commitment to bargain respectfully at the negotiating table – preferring, instead, to misrepresent the facts in the media.  With that in mind, I’d like to share with you more information about the position Shell has taken during the course of bargaining and the issues we are attempting to resolve.

The central issue standing in the way of a settlement is not safety, fatigue, healthcare or even wages, as the union claims.  Those things are important to all of us, and it’s important to share that we have engaged in productive negotiations regarding each of these issues. 

The central issue of the USW’s national leaders is a continued demand that we replace routine maintenance contractors with USW-represented employees.

It’s unreasonable for the USW to demand that Motiva and the industry agree to their position.  Our established practice of utilizing contractors supports the need for flexibility in hiring to accommodate economic cycles and maintenance schedules.  We’re open to a variety of ways to maintain a strong roster of skilled craftsmen available to each of our locations, but hiring flexibility is a proven way to protect our core Motiva workforce and the long-term economic viability of our business.  It is the most effective way to keep our sites running safely, efficiently and reliably, and helps us accomplish Motiva’s purpose of becoming the safest and most profitable downstream company in the U.S.  This strategy has served us all well, as we have not had to conduct any layoffs in decades.

These strikes are unfortunate in light of Motiva’s commitment to our employees and our consistent focus on safety and training, as well as our highly competitive compensation and benefits package.

For more information about National Oil Bargaining, please visit Motiva’s website at www.motivaenterprises.com, or to learn more about the National Oil Bargaining process, visiti www.shell.us/2015nob

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