Operating Engineers Local 399 narrowly avoids strike at Wood River refinery


Roxana, IL – Last month Wood River refinery workers averted a potential strike and ratified their contract with Phillips 66.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 voted to accept the proposal in late-stage negotiations, which prevented the operators from going on strike. The union and refiner had been working with a federal mediator since July, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, seeking more benefits for holiday and vacation hours as well as higher pay.

The settlement was reached right before the extended deadline of Sept. 15, according to Reuters.

“Phillips 66 values our good relationship with the union, and we are committed to engaging in good-faith bargaining,” a company spokesperson told Reuters, adding it believed the company’s offer satisfied that goal.

The members had overwhelmingly rejected previous offers from Phillips 66 because it did not adequately address safety concerns, work-life balance issues, reduction of forced overtime and wages, among others. The vote on the previous “final” offer was 288-23 against acceptance.

Producing 356,000 barrels per day, the Wood River refinery in Roxana employs approximately 370 workers. Safety concerns echoed especially after a fatal accident at the refinery in December, in which a 47-year-old contract worker was killed and another injured after a crane overturned and crashed at the refinery.

In 1962, a strike at the Wood River refinery involved 2,100 operating and maintenance workers from 13 different unions. The strike began on Aug. 18 and went on until February of the next year. There was acrimony and even violence, according to the Madison County Historical Society, including a derailed boxcar, shots fired into the refinery manager’s house and at striking laborers, bricks through windows and even a bombing.


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