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Steelworkers union to extend talks over refinery contracts

February 01, 2009|Reuters

HOUSTON — The United Steelworkers union said Saturday that it would extend by 24 hours talks for a new labor contract for U.S. refinery workers, delaying a possible strike that could affect over half of U.S. refining capacity.

"Sufficient progress has been made in our deliberations today to warrant a rolling 24-hour extension at all locations," USW spokeswoman Lynne Baker said in a statement. "Discussions are continuing."

A spokesman for lead refiner negotiator Shell Oil Co. said he expected a successful conclusion to the talks.

"Shell is committed to resolving the remaining issues at the negotiating table," Stan Mays said. "We are optimistic that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached with the USW."

The existing three-year contract was set to expire today shortly after midnight. After that, as many as 24,000 workers at U.S. refineries, chemical plants and pipelines could have begun walking off their jobs.

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