Local steel workers and officials with Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Galveston Bay Refinery plan to return to the bargaining table this week after the union membership overwhelmingly rejected a company contract offer, union representatives said.
United Steelworkers Local 13-1 members rejected the offer by more than 90 percent, said local Treasurer Brandi Sanders.
The local represents about 3,500 workers at 29 sites in Galveston and Harris counties, according to the union website.
Employees will continue working at the Galveston Bay Refinery, on the Galveston Bay at the Houston ship channel entrance, through next week as the union continues to negotiate with Marathon officials, Sanders said.
Company officials could not be reached Saturday.
The union and the company have been discussing a deal since mid-January to replace one that expired Feb. 1, Sanders said.
On Feb. 1, company officials presented their offer, but union members didn’t begin voting until Thursday, Sanders said. Voting ended Friday night, she said.
Since Feb. 1, employees have been working on rolling 24-hour extensions, she said.
The union has a variety of concerns it wants addressed in the eventual contract, including benefits, sick pay and a chief safety operator position.
“This job was created and now they’re trying to eliminate the position,” Sanders said. “It’s a critical position.”
These negotiations come almost four years after a 2015 labor strike that stopped work at the Galveston refinery for 143 days. During that strike, workers were most concerned with health and safety representatives, alternative work schedules and dependent care, among others topics.
Employees’ concerns over health and safety have continued since a 2005 explosion at the refinery, which BP owned at the time, that killed 15 workers.
About 1,960 people work at the Galveston Bay Refinery, according to the company website. It produces gasoline and heavy fuel oil, among other products. Marathon, based in Findlay, Ohio, purchased the refinery in 2013.