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Steelworkers protest racism and lack of adequate safety at the Shell refinery in Martinez, California

By x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, January 25, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Inside sources tell us that rank and file members of United Steelworkers Union Local 5 in Martinez, California are none too happy with management of the local Shell refinery bosses.

Their main beef is that the company refuses to hire full time firefighters to staff the facility, and instead choose to rely on part timers. Given these refineries' tendency to--well--explode, especially in light of the fact that they're processing heavier and dirtier tar sands crude through increasingly corroded and poorly maintained pipes (due to maintenance budget restrictions in spite of the workers' warning against that), this isn't shocking. In fact, what's shocking is that more people don't know about this.

These same workers attended the recent (January 21, 2015) Martinez City Council meeting to complain about unaddressed instances of sexism and racial slurs (including a hangman's noose and graffiti of a Nazi swastika found at the facility) by the company.

The union conducted a brief informational picket in nearby Pacheco on January 22 to raise awareness about their grievances. Stay tuned for updates.

Reportedly, members of USW Local 5 will also join in a community rally in front of city hall (400 Civic Center on McDonald), in Richmond, California at 5 PM, Wednesday, January 28, 2015. At 6 PM, the US Chemical Safety Board will issue its final determination on the August 6, 2012 toxic fire and explosion at the Chevron Richmond Refinery.

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