strike by Chevron refinery workers in California; Fuel prices seen unaffected

FILE PHOTO: Chevron's logo is seen at the company's Caracas office
FILE PHOTO: Chevron’s logo is seen at the company’s office in Caracas, Venezuela on April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

March 21, 2022

By Erwin Seba and Gary McWilliams

(Reuters) – Pickets marching outside the gates of a major Chevron Corp oil refinery outside San Francisco said on Monday they could endure a lengthy strike to assert claims for a new job contract.

But the plant continued to run normally and fuel supplies and prices are not expected to be affected, gasoline analysts said.

More than 500 United Steelworkers members at the 245,000 barrel-per-day facility in Richmond, Calif., walked out early Monday after members rejected a contract offer from Chevron over the weekend.

The strike is the first in more than 40 years at the plant, which is a major supplier of gasoline, aviation fuel and diesel fuel. The last strike, in 1980, lasted five months, said BK White, the local 5th first vice president of the United Steelworkers Union.

“We’re waiting for Chevron to come to the table,” White said in an interview outside the gates, as truck drivers honked their horns in support. The union is ready “to stay until we get a fair and equitable contract,” he added.


California, which has some of the highest fuel prices in the country, likely won’t feel the impact, fuel analysts said. Wholesale gasoline prices in California fell 21.5 cents and 13 cents a gallon, respectively, in the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets on Monday, dealers said.

According to motoring group AAA, a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline sold for an average of $5.86 and a gallon of diesel for $6.26 in the state as of Monday.

“A strike at a refinery is not necessarily a catastrophic event in terms of prices and supply. Drivers are unlikely to notice, at least at this point,” said Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis.

Chevron continues to operate the facility and is ready to hold further discussions with the union, spokesman Tyler Kruzich said.

The company began Sunday night replacing union workers at production unit controls with managers, technical staff and others.


Plans for a resumption of contract negotiations have not been determined.

“The potential for a strike scares people, but in reality and in the short term, it shouldn’t affect anything,” said a Los Angeles fuel dealer, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect business ties.

“It’s different here in California, where strikers don’t turn violent,” the dealer said. “Refinery management should be able to run the refinery at least as well as union crews.”

Still, US gasoline futures in New York rose 4.5% on reports that European Union officials are considering a ban on Russian oil over the country’s invasion of Ukraine, said Devin Gladden, a spokesman for motoring group AAA.

The local USW union at the plant has called for a 5% wage increase over what was agreed under a national labor contract last month because of the higher cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

She also wants the company to increase staff to reduce the 60-70 hours union members sometimes have to work, USW’s White told Reuters.

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams and Erwin Seba in Houston, editing by Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis) strike by Chevron refinery workers in California; Fuel prices seen unaffected


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