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UPDATE: Sunoco Averts Pa. Refinery Strike with Labor Deals
March 04, 2009

The United Steelworkers union and top Northeast U.S. refiner Sunoco Inc signed tentative contract agreements for workers at the company's two Pennsylvania refineries, narrowly averting a strike at the plants.

Late Tuesday, the president of the USW local representing workers at Sunoco's 178,000 barrel per day Marcus Hook refinery said a tentative agreement had been reached, saying he was "pleased" with the outcome.

"A tentative agreement has been reached and signed by USW Local 10-901 and Sunoco Inc," said Lynne Baker, a spokeswoman for the union.

Baker said the the three-year agreement follows the National Oil Bargaining pattern agreement - 3 percent raise each year, $2,500 lump sum, continuation of health care coverage 80 percent paid by the employer, successorship, and no retrogression language, which now includes successorship and job security language.

The Marcus Hook contract is expected to be ratified next Wednesday or Thursday after union members have an opportunity to review it.

Late Monday, a tentative contract agreement was also reached for Sunoco's largest refinery, the 335,000-bpd Philadelphia refinery.

"We think the agreements at Marcus Hook and Philadelphia are fair to both sides and the negotiating teams deserve a lot of credit for working through some tough issues," said Thomas Golembeski, a spokesman for the company.

Workers at both plants came near walking off their jobs on Sunday as the union and Sunoco deadlocked over the company's desire to reduce employment by 15 percent at the two refineries.

The USW said Sunoco's proposed staff cuts violated a long-standing no layoff clause renewed in a national pattern agreement negotiated last month by the USW and U.S. refiners. That agreement has been accepted by Sunoco for its Toledo, Ohio, refinery.

The Steelworkers represent more than 700 workers at the Philadelphia refinery, the seventh largest in the United States, and 550 workers at the Marcus Hook refinery.

The wholesale price of gasoline in the New York Harbor fell on Wednesday after it became clear that there would be no strike impacting production, traders said.

Source: AFX News Limited

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