The End of the USW Strike Is in Sight for Some Local Unions

Categories: Whatever

HOU_NEWS_20150305_Feat_USWrally_maxburkhalter-46.jpg
Photo by Max Burkhalter
Lee Medley and the USW District 13-1 union members outside of the USW Hall in Pasadena.

Well, it looks like the first significant oil refinery strike in 35 years is finally beginning to wrap up. So far, oil companies have made agreements with local unions that will see union workers back on the job at two of the striking Texas refineries -- Shell Deer Park and the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur -- before the end of March.

The strike started on February 1 after the national arm of the United Steelworkers, representing about 30,000 oil refinery workers, and Royal Dutch Shell, negotiating for the oil companies, failed to reach a new national contract. From there, USW called out more than 6,000 workers at 15 plants, including 12 refineries that handle about one-fifth of the refinery work in the United States.

See also: Crossing the Line: Money, Safety, Power - What Makes a Union Strike at a Bad Time for Oil and Gas?


More »

USW Locals Are Still in Negotiations to End the Oil Refinery Strike

Categories: Whatever

HOU_NEWS_Feat-USWgroup_MaxBurkhalter.jpg
Photo by Max Burkhalter
Lee Medley and the USW District 13-1 union members outside of the USW Hall in Pasadena.

Even though representatives from the national arm of the United Steelworkers and Royal Dutch Shell reached a tentative deal last Thursday, the strike is still dragging on.

Why? Well, because the national deal brokered by USW, negotiating on behalf of about 30,000 oil refinery workers, and Shell, working on behalf of the oil companies, is simply a pattern agreement that local unions base their contracts on. In this case, the initial four-year deal has pay increases and an agreement (still unspecified) to look into safety concerns and the fatigue rules that govern workers. From there the local reps for both the companies and USW still have to work out how to implement the national agreements for their local contracts along with the details for their return-to-work deals.

Those may sound like pretty basic things, but keep in mind that these groups now trying to work together have spent more than a month on opposite sides of picket lines.


More »

USW and Shell Say They're Making Progress (And That's All They'll Say)

Categories: Whatever

HOU_NEWS_Feat-USWgroup_MaxBurkhalter.jpg
Photo by Max Burkhalter
Lee Medley and the USW District 13-1 union members outside of the USW Hall in Pasadena.

All week long representatives from United Steelworkers and Royal Dutch Shell have been ensconced in some undisclosed Houston location trying to hammer out a national contract for the USW oil refinery workers that both sides can agree on. They've admitted that the two sides have been talking in the same room and everything all week, but that's all they will admit to.

The national arm of USW, negotiating on behalf of more than 30,000 oil refinery workers, and Shell, negotiating on behalf of the oil companies, have been grappling over the details of this contract - a contract that sets the standards that local USW union districts use to negotiate local contracts with the oil companies - since January 21. When they failed to reach an agreement by the end of the old contract USW started calling union workers out on strike from refineries and chemical plants on February 1. Local USW workers at Shell Deer Park, LyondellBasell and Marathon's Texas City refinery were some of the first pulled out. Since the start of the strike USW has called out more than 6,000 workers from 15 chemical plants, including 12 oil refineries, on strike.

Meanwhile, USW and Shell representatives have met or talked via teleconference in an attempt to work out a deal, but have repeatedly come up short, butting heads over various issues including the use of contract workers, safety standards and the current fatigue policy. USW has rejected seven contract offers so far. After only meeting briefly via teleconference last week, the fact that the two sides were going to be in the same city and the same room this week seemed like progress.

Still, as negotiations dragged from Monday into Tuesday and then into Tuesday night, USW sent out a text update to its members which managed to come off as both reassuring and as a thin-veiled threat to the oil companies: "Bargaining is moving along. Industry needs to close the gaps and end the strike or see it expand. Stay tough."


More »

"DON'T CUT HIS PENIS!": Anti-Circumcision Group Protesting in Houston

Categories: Whatever

circumcision.JPG
Facebook screenshot
We'd go, but our jumpsuit is at the dry cleaners.
If you're not doing anything in Houston between 10am-3pm Wednesday or Thursday, and you really dislike circumcision, you might want to check out protests organized by a group called Bloodstained Men & Their Friends.

The group kicked off its statewide dick-deliverance-demonstrations in Dallas March 10 and will make stops in San Antonio, Austin, and Fort Worth. According to a press release, "Bloodstained Men & Their Friends are known for their signature white outfits with bloodstained crotches to symbolize the lifelong wound that circumcision inflicts." So if you want to go to the protest, these dudes should be easy to find.

More »

Not Everyone Is Thrilled With Memorial Park's Master Plan

homebanner_2.jpg
Memorial Park Conservancy
Everyone loves Memorial Park but that doesn't mean they agree on what's best for it.

The Memorial Park Conservancy is finishing up gathering public input on the new master plan that will govern how the park evolves over the next 20 years, but not everyone is thrilled with the changes the conservancy is pitching.

While the officials with the Memorial Park Conservancy say these changes are for the good of the park, some critics say the plan is just something cooked up by the Memorial Park Conservancy to design the park the way they see fit. "They don't own the park. You own the park and we own the park, but they think they own it. They justify everything they do. They make it sound good," Jorge Figueroa, an emphatic critic of the master plan, says.

The master plan will be enacted over a 20-year period and by the time it's done it will have reshaped the park in a lot of ways. Shellye Arnold, executive director of the Memorial Park Conservancy, says that these changes will help the park continue to evolve and thrive even as the city continues to grow up around it.


More »

Apollo the Dog Gets a New Face

Categories: Whatever

apollonew.JPG
Screenshot, ADORE Houston Facebook page
A new leash on life...
Boy, it's nice to write about a happy ending.

In January, rescue group ADORE Houston put out the word about a dog who had half his face chopped off. The injury seemed man-made, but it's still unclear what happened.

The dog, who they called Apollo, was rushed to veterinarian Ryan Farmer at Harrisburg Veterinary Clinic, and then he went on to Westbury Animal Hospital for some much-needed relaxation before going to Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists for surgery.

More »

USW and Shell are in Houston to Talk Again

Categories: Whatever

rsz_uswrally_feb15_maxburkhalter-46.jpg
Photo by Max Burkhalter

After a month on strike, representatives of the United Steelworkers and Royal Dutch Shell are meeting at an undisclosed location in Houston today to see if they can finally hammer out a deal.

This is the first major oil refinery worker strike in 35 years. USW, on behalf of its 30,000 oil refinery workers, has been negotiating a contract with Shell, working on behalf of the oil companies, since January 21.

The two sides have been butting heads on a number of issues, including safety (USW says they want the refineries to be more safe, Shell says safety isn't what USW is really after), contract workers (USW says they want Shell to hire union people instead of contract workers because they're better trained, but Shell says USW just wants to add numbers to its union), fatigue policy (USW wants a stricter policy to keep employees from working when tired, Shell says the current policy agreed to on the last round of negotiations in 2012 is fine) along with the usual arm wrestling over pay raises and benefits.


More »

Zapruder Analysis of Viral YouTube Guy Putting His Girlfriend in WWE Finishers

Categories: Sports, Whatever

hou_news_zapruder_wwemoves.png
Joe Weller via YouTube
I was born 30 years too early.

As someone who's adapted his game pretty well to the social media/Internet age (as well as any 46-year-old I know), I always quietly believed this was the case. Now, I'll shout it from the rooftops. It's undeniable.

Here is why I am now screaming this....

More »

Congressman Gene Green Checked Out the USW Picket Lines This Weekend

Categories: Whatever

CMgreen_picket_line.JPG
Dianna Wray
Congressman Gene Green (center) and USW District 13-1 local president Lee Medley (left) walked the picket line outside of the main gate of Shell Deer Park on Saturday morning while security guards looked on from behind the fence

Shell and USW representatives may be starting another round of negotiations soon, but things are getting more tense on the picket line as the strike drags on. Congressman Gene Green came out on Saturday morning to meet with USW District 13-1 local president Lee Medley and to talk with the people on the picket lines.

So far, USW reps have rejected at least seven contract offers from Shell, and pulled more than 6,500 workers at 15 plants -- with about 5,000 coming from 12 oil refineries -- since the strike started on February 1. Locally, the strike started by pulling union workers out of LyondellBasell, Marathon's Texas City Refinery and Shell Deer Park. The two sides are reportedly butting heads over safety issues, rules that make sure fatigued workers aren't stuck on the job, and contractors. Talks haven't exactly been going well.


More »

HPD: Help Us Help You Not Get Shot by HPD

Categories: Whatever

hpd_vid_dont_get_shot.png
HPD
HPD offers a lesson in "hands up, don't shoot"
HPD has released a handy YouTube video that offers a basic rundown of how not to spook a cop that's decided to pull you over or detain you.

HPD Chief Charles McClelland says the department made the video after receiving numerous questions from citizens on "how best to interact with officers in the safest way possible for all."

More »
Loading...