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Steelworkers Ratify Oil Bargaining Policy for Contract Talks

United Steelworkers at 69 U.S. oil refineries have approved a bargaining policy that will be the basis of negotiations with the companies for new three-year labor contracts.

The policy covers health and safety, wages, benefits and contract language, according to a statement from USW International President Leo W. Gerard. Most of the local contracts expire Jan. 31 and the rest later in 2012.

Talks are scheduled to begin in January with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which will bargain on behalf of companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips and Valero Energy Corp. If approved, the agreement with Shell will become the pattern used to negotiate local contracts.

Refinery and pipeline union members, who number about 30,000, have not been on strike since 1980. A strike would affect almost two-thirds of U.S. refining capacity, according to union research.

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