Here Comes the Extortion

Nice business you got there. Be too bad if it got shut down for some reason.

The United Steelworkers union told its workers at nine US refineries and chemical plants to strike early Sunday morning….

And they’ve gone ahead and walked out, trying to shut down nine refineries from Houston to LA. For demurring on paying the union vig. USW’s threat to the viability of these refineries ultimately could affect

30,000 workers at 230 refineries, oil terminals, pipelines, and petrochemical plants[.]

USW threatening the viability of a company for not paying up is an overstatement, you think? These refineries still have to make payroll—even of those union workers who no longer are working and earning their paychecks—they still have supplier bills to pay, they still have maintenance bills to pay, they still need to run their R&D programs, they still…. They can’t, though, if they can’t refine petroleum and have a product to sell to earn the revenue needed to pay those bills.

The USW knows that. It’s why they’ve chosen to strike—to attack the viability of their target companies and so to force their surrender.

In the final days of negotiations, the union rejected multiple offers from Shell, which led negotiations on behalf of US refinery operators.

Notwithstanding that, USW International President Leo Gerard claimed in wide-eyed innocence,

Shell refused to provide us with a counteroffer and left the bargaining table. We had no choice but to give notice of a work stoppage.

It’s time unions lost their exemption under the Clayton Antitrust Act, the successor law to the Sherman Antitrust Act which bars companies—and the USW is a company—from abusing their monopoly power. A monopoly power the USW clearly has with its near total control over the labor force of these refineries, and a monopoly power the USW clearly is abusing with its naked threat to the viability of those companies through its refusal to work—its refusal to let those companies earn the revenue they need to pay their bills.

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