HOUSTON, April 27 (Reuters) - The United Steelworkers union filed a charge with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board against Lyondell Basell Industries for declaring an impasse in negotiations with striking Houston refinery workers, the union said on Monday.
Lyondell declared the impasse on April 14 following the rejection of its “last, best and final” contract offer by striking workers from USW Local 13-227. The company implemented the final contract offer as work rules at the refinery on April 20.
“We provided the company with new proposals that made significant movement to resolve the disputed contract issues and repeatedly asked the company to return to the bargaining table, but they refused to bargain,” District 13 Representative Jim Lefton said in statement on Monday.
A Lyondell representative was not immediately available to comment on the charge.
The union alleges that by declaring impasse, implementing the final offer at the refinery and refusing to return to negotiations that the company has failed to bargain in good faith. This is the 12th charge filed by the union against Lyondell, according to the statement.
“Lyondell used the declaration of impasse to bully its workers to accept a substandard contract that does not stop the company from working its employees to the point of exhaustion,” Lefton said.
A federal mediator has been unable to bring Lyondell back to the negotiating table, the union said.
Before the impasse was declared, talks between the two sides were primarily stuck on the question of premium pay, which allows workers to simultaneously receive several pay differentials for extensive overtime, union officials have said.
Hourly workers began the walkout on Feb. 1 at the Lyondell refinery, which has remained in operation using temporary replacement workers.
Lyondell workers walked off their jobs as part of the largest strike by U.S. refinery and chemical plant workers in 35 years. The job action spread to 15 plants, including 12 refineries, which account for one-fifth of national capacity.
An agreement on national issues was reached between the USW and U.S. refinery owners on March 12. By mid-April workers at 10 plants had returned to their jobs.
Workers at five plants, including Lyondell’s Houston refinery, have remained on picket lines in contentious talks over local issues.
Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Dan Grebler