USW Accuses LyondellBasell of Refusing to Negotiate

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Max Burkhalter
The USW oil refinery strike is still on at LyondellBasell's Pasadena refinery.

Anyone who thought the United Steelworkers oil refinery strike was over has another thing coming. Even though the national USW strike technically ended for most of the more than 6,000 striking union workers about a month ago, the local members of USW Distrct 13-227, the union at LyondellBasell's Pasadena refinery, are still on strike and without a contract. Now the national arm of USW is calling the company out.

On Monday, the national arm of the USW issued a release stating that LyondellBasell officials are claiming they're at an impasse with USW negotiators but the company reps are really just refusing to negotiate. LyondellBasell and local USW negotiators have been in talks ever since the national strike formally ended in March. They've had a federal mediator involved from the start of these talks, but have failed to get anywhere, with both sides implying -- and sometimes stating outright -- that it's because the other side is unwilling to negotiate and compromise enough to make a deal.


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Hefe Wine, a.k.a. Mr. Iggy Azalea, Strikes Back!

Categories: Spaced City

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All the crap that's fit to print.
If you happened to be hanging outside the Harris County Criminal Courthouse Monday, chances are you saw some gentlemen handing out a tabloid-size tract called the Houston Real Press, featuring Australian rapper Iggy Azalea on the cover and a boatload of stupid inside.

The six-page libel-palooza serves as sort of a subliterate rebuttal to the Houston Press's March story detailing the state and federal litigation involving Azalea and a Houston rapper named Enzo Weinberg, who claims to be her common-law husband.

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Mayor Parker Threatens to Revoke Uber's Permit, Sets Friday Deadline

Categories: Spaced City

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Since news broke earlier this month that a local Uber driver has been charged with sexually assaulting a passenger, things have been pretty frosty between the rideshare service and the City of Houston.

Duncan Eric Burton, a former Uber driver, has admitted to taking a blackout drunk passenger to his apartment, where he then orally, vaginally and anally raped the woman, according to a Houston police officer's affidavit filed in a Harris County court. City officials claim that Burton's arrest underscores two serious problems with the rideshare service's operations in Houston. It appears Uber's third party background check didn't catch that Burton was released from federal prison in 2012 and was on probation after serving 14 years for a felony drug charge, something that should have disqualified him under Uber's own policies. And COH officials point out that Burton was among the untold number of Uber drivers who still pick up passengers yet haven't registered with the city to undergo a fingerprint-based background check, which city officials insist is more rigorous than Uber's system and would have flagged Burton's criminal record.

Reacting to the news, Mayor Annise Parker told reporters, "It is inexcusable that Uber had a driver on the streets and tied to their app who was not registered with the city." Last week, Uber's Texas director Chris Nakutis sent Parker a letter saying the company takes the city's permitting process seriously.

Apparently that wasn't a good enough assurance. On Wednesday, Parker sent Uber a letter demanding the company come up with a plan to ensure all of its Houston drivers have gone through the city's vetting and permitting process. According to Parker's letter, she wants a plan on her desk by Friday. Or else.


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USW Rejects LyondellBasell's 'Last, Best and Final' Offer

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Max Burkhalter

After more than two months on strike, it all came down to a vote. Would members of United Steelworkers District 227 opt to accept the "last, best and final offer" from LyondellBasell and go back to work, or would they decide to stay on strike?

After two days of voting, the final count came in late Tuesday night. Despite the fact that USW 227 members have been on strike since February 1, walking away from their jobs, paychecks and health insurance, the union members voted to continue the local strike, Joshua Lege, LyondellBasell employee and USW 227 strike coordinator, says.


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[Video] Houston Celebrates 50 Years of the Astrodome

Categories: Spaced City

Fact: Houston loves the Astrodome.

It's easy to forget that fact some days with the amount of debate that surrounds its fate. However, if people didn't love the Dome, there wouldn't be a debate; we'd simply pave it over and put up parking because that's just sort of what Houston does to history sometimes.

While the fate of the Dome is still not set in stone, Houston put that aside for a night to celebrate the stadium turning 50. For one night, at least, people got to stroll through a major part of Houston history and take it all in.

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Group Accuses Richmond Teacher of Spewing Anti-Muslim Hate in Class

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The Houston office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking Lamar CISD officials to discipline a teacher accused of passed out "virulently anti-Muslim materials" to students in class.

CAIR claims a teacher at Foster High School in Richmond cribbed material from an anti-Muslim website (it's not clear what website) to distribute to students. While CAIR hasn't named the teacher, the group has provided examples of what was supposedly handed out in class:


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USW Strike Is Still on for LyondellBasell and Marathon Locals

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Max Burkhalter
Most of the striking USW members went back to work last week, but some are still in contract negotiations.

The national United Steelworkers oil refinery strike technically ended weeks ago, but the local union members at LyondellBasell and Marathon are still grappling with company officials over their local contracts.

The strike started back in February after Royal Dutch Shell officials failed to negotiate a national pattern contract that satisfied the national arm of the United Steelworkers, which ultimately called a strike. More than 6,000 workers from 15 plants, including 12 oil refineries, were called out on strike. Houston-area refinery workers from Shell Deer Park, LyondellBasell and Marathon's Galveston Refinery in Texas City were some of the first union members pulled out. They walked away from their paychecks and benefits, while USW national officials continued to struggle to make a deal with Shell.

From there, USW, negotiating for about 30,000 oil refinery workers, and Shell, negotiating for the oil companies, went on butting heads on a variety of issues, including contractors, fatigue standards and safety issues. It took more than a month to get the national contract -- the contract that all the local unions would model their local contracts on -- ironed out.

But anyone who thought that would be the most complicated part of the strike probably missed the fact that a national agreement meant that now the members of the local unions and the local company officials would have to sit down after weeks of animosity and picket lines and work out a local deal.


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The USW Strike Still Isn't Over at LyondellBasell and Marathon

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Max Burkhalter
The USW national strike has ended but the show isn't quite over yet.
The national United Steelworkers strike technically ended more than two weeks ago when Royal Dutch Shell and the international arm of the United Steelworkers finally hammered out a pattern contract agreement that would last for four years. But even though most of the union members will be back on the job by April 1, workers at Marathon's Texas City Refinery and the LyondellBasell refinery in Pasadena are still without local contracts, and thus are still on strike.

The whole USW strike started on February 1 after Shell, negotiating on behalf of the oil companies, and USW, negotiating on behalf of more than 30,000 oil refinery union members, failed to agree on a contract. When midnight came without a new agreement -- the two sides were grappling over safety concerns, fatigue regulations and whether some work done by contractors should be given to union employees instead -- Shell Deer Park, LyondellBasell in Pasadena and Marathon's Texas City refinery were among the first refineries called out on strike.

Over the following weeks, as the two sides continued to fail to come to an agreement, more than 6,000 USW workers at 15 plants (including 12 refineries that manufacture about a fifth of the nation's oil) walked away from their jobs, their paychecks and their benefits to go on strike, the first major oil refinery strike in 35 years.

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Could ExxonMobil Buy BP?

Categories: Spaced City

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Thinkstock

Imagine a world where the largest energy company in the world becomes even more massive by gobbling up one of the most notorious energy companies around. Got it? Okay, now prepare yourself because the rumors are swirling that such a thing could actually happen. Bloomberg is reporting that ExxonMobil, the largest energy company in the world, has plans to issue an $8 billion bond offering, the largest it has ever put out. Why? Well, that's where things get really interesting, because the Houston Business Journal is reporting that Irving-based Exxon could have plans to buy London-based British Petroleum.

Yeah. BP, the one with the oil spill.


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Woo-Hoo! Houston Getting Another Low-Cost Spay-Neuter Clinic

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by OakleyOriginals/Flickr
"They'll have treats, too, right? RIGHT?"
Awesome news: Houston will be getting another low-cost spay/neuter clinic in the spring. City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to give Austin-based Emancipet $260,000 for the clinic, which will be located at 4410 Navigation Blvd.

"The clinic will be able to spay/neuter 7,000-8,000 animals per year and provide approximately 10,000 preventive care visits" for things like microchipping and vaccinations, according to an Emancipet press release. This is definitely a huge step toward tackling Houston's homeless animal population, which is estimated at between 800,000-1.2 million.

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