Tesoro Refinery strike moves into second week

Laura Anthony Image
ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Tesoro Refinery strike moves into second week
As the Tesoro Refinery strike moves into its second week, the concern now is that it will spread to other refineries across the country, which could push up gas prices.

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Gas prices are rising again and a local refinery strike is partly to blame.

At the Tesoro Refinery in Martinez, workers walking the picket lines are moving into their second week of the strike. The concern now is that it might go on for quite some time and spread to other refineries across the country.

The United Steelworkers say they're ready to stay out for as long as it takes to make this refinery and others safer.

"We all want to go home at the end of our shift. And we want to protect the community as well. We want to keep this place safer not just for ourselves but for the community and the people of the Bay Area," said striking worker Warren Kostenuk.

Tesoro Martinez is now one of 11 refineries across the country where workers are on strike. They say the big issues are health and safety, not money.

"They need to make sure they're doing the maintenance, keep up on the maintenance, not try to prolong things as long as they can go. Overtime is a big thing," explained James Ault, who is also striking.

The bargaining between the refineries and the union is being done at the national level, where talks just resumed on Tuesday after several days off.

In a statement, Tesoro said: "Tesoro's Martinez refinery has idled its units and is now operating as a terminal... Tesoro has and will continue to bargain in good faith and we are committed to reaching a fair agreement."

If the strike goes on much longer, it could spread to other refineries, including Shell and Chevron in the Bay Area.

Gas prices could also start to go up more than they already have because of the uncertainty created by a prolonged work stoppage.