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The Phrases Of Lifeless Workers

To present voice to 35 employees killed on the job over the past 35 years at a large refinery in Texas City, lots of of surviving relations, co-workers and friends gathered there final month to erect white crosses marked with their names.

They carried out the ceremony on the 10th anniversary of an explosion that killed 15 employees and injured greater than 170, together with townspeople.

Marathon Petroleum Corp. which purchased the refinery from BP two years ago, did its greatest to shut the mourners up. Marathon uprooted the crosses and tossed them in a field like trash inside hours of petroleum products marketing company registration the commemoration.

For years throughout contract negotiations, the United Steelworkers (USW) union has pressed ungodly profitable oil firms to improve security. This fell mostly on deaf ears. On Feb. 1, USW refinery employees started loudly voicing this demand by placing over unfair labor practices (ULP). In the end 7,000 struck 15 refineries. Within six weeks, all however five oil corporations settled. Marathon is a hold out. It needs to chop security personnel. It doesn’t need to listen to about dead workers.

Yet the (ULP) strike is about Glycerin Refining Equipment dead workers. Over the past 5 years, at petroleum products marketing company registration refineries nationwide that make use of USW members, 27 staff have died – incinerated, gassed or crushed to demise. And the peril of refineries spills into communities. In Texas Metropolis at the refinery owned by BP in 2005, flying glass from home windows shattered in the explosion injured townspeople. In the first six weeks of this year, explosions occurred at three refineries, closing streets, raining eye-irritating white ash on neighborhoods and forcing residents to shelter indoors for hours.

Because the USW strike over unfair labor practices drags on in Texas Metropolis at petroleum products marketing company registration what’s now known as the Marathon Petroleum Corp. Galveston Bay Refinery, USW members feel Marathon’s demands for lowered safety measures point out the corporation refuses to hear the cautionary tales of the facility’s deadly past. Brandi Sanders, treasurer for the native union there and a ten-year veteran maintenance worker, instructed me that it is as if Marathon believes the 2005 explosion and the 20 different deaths since 1980 don’t exist because they didn’t happen on Marathon’s watch.

“But the union doesn’t need to go back. We lived through those experiences. And we discovered from that history. And we should not be compelled to repeat it,” Sanders stated.

That was the explanation for the candlelight ceremony on March 23. To make those deaths real for Marathon managers who didn’t experience them within the visceral method that co-staff and families and neighbors did.

The mourners marked every of the 35 crosses with the identify of a worker killed on the nation’s fifth largest refinery since 1980, which is the 12 months of the final nationwide strike at refineries. A bagpiper performed “Amazing Grace” because the individuals, holding candles aloft in the dead of night, marched two blocks from the native union hall to the refinery. They wanted to position the crosses on the positioning the place the workers had lost their lives.

But police officers blocked their path. Marathon had called the cops. Marathon refused to acknowledge the tragic anniversary, even with a second of silence at the refinery as BP had carried out annually. And it wouldn’t enable a commemoration by anybody else on its property both.

The officers permitted the mourners to erect the white markers in a median strip along the highway, as usually is completed by household and friends of car crash victims. The ceremony members referred to as out each name, tolled a bell and positioned the marker. Tears flowed.

Just a few hours later, picketers noticed managers leave the plant, descend on the memorial in the darkness and rip every of the 35 crosses out of the bottom.

Larry Burchfield, a member of the USW’s Nationwide Oil Bargaining Policy Committee and a machinist at the refinery for 20 years whereas it was owned first by Amoco, then BP and now Marathon, advised me that disrespect Marathon confirmed for the dead is similar disregard Marathon exhibits for the dwelling.

If Marathon valued the lives of workers, the company wouldn’t strive to save lots of a few bucks by eliminating the safety measures put in place to preserve workers’ lives after the 2005 explosion, Burchfield mentioned. “Marathon’s safety policies are known as life vital policies,” he informed me, “But your life is not so important when it will have an effect on Marathon’s bottom line.”

Marathon’s “it wasn’t me; it was BP” reasoning for downgrading security simply doesn’t reduce it. Don Holmstrom, director of the Western Regional Office of the U.S. Chemical Security Board (CSB), explained why in an interview with the Galveston County Daily News for a narrative on the anniversary of the 2005 blast.

“I suppose it is unhappy to report that not enough seems to have been realized, and the problem persists. It’s not a BP problem. Though the incident occurred at (BP’s) Texas Metropolis refinery, there is an industry downside,” stated Holmstrom, who was the CSB’s lead investigator into the 2005 blast.

Occupational Well being and Security Administration (OSHA) Assistant Administrator Jordan Barab said of recent refinery explosions, “each repeated a lesson that the business ought to have already realized.”

Marathon is no outlier, operating in good security. Numerous issues have occurred at the plant since Marathon took over. An explosion and fireplace at the refinery on Feb. 21 last year critically injured Oscar Garcia, who was employed by an organization Marathon contracted to carry out work on the positioning. Garcia has sued Marathon for negligence. The refinery released greater than 128,000 pounds of silica and alumina oxide into surrounding communities in two incidents this 12 months. Several fires have occurred because the strike started, together with two within 24 hours witnessed by picketing employees.

After the BP explosion, the CSB and others beneficial refineries chorus from inserting personnel in temporary amenities near volatile items, especially throughout shut downs and startups. Many of those killed in the BP explosion have been in momentary trailers during a unit start up. Regardless of that, within the past year, Marathon erected three lunch tents throughout a restore cycle on the identical floor where our bodies and debris had been hauled away after the 2005 blast.

Not one of the 1,100 USW members who work for Marathon has crossed the picket line. They’ve gone without pay for practically three months as a result of they know what’s at stake: their lives.

In another try to help Marathon hear that, employees replanted the 35 white crosses in a long line in front of the union corridor. They managed to get them back from Marathon via the police division.

Tomorrow, on Workers’ Memorial Day, which commemorates these who’ve lost their lives on the job, the USW members will place a solar spotlight in front of each cross, to focus on the lives sacrificed when security was compromised. Hopefully, that will open the eyes of Marathon managers who intentionally closed their ears to the phrases of useless workers.