The United Steelworkers union that represents employees at more than 200 U.S. oil refineries, terminals, pipelines and chemical plants began a strike at nine sites in the biggest walkout since 1980. Oil futures fell.
The USW started the work stoppage after failing to agree on a labor contract that expired Sunday, saying in a statement that it “had no choice.” The union rejected five contract offers made by Royal Dutch Shell Plc on behalf of oil companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. since negotiations began on Jan. 21.
The steelworkers’ union hasn’t called a strike nationally since 1980, when a stoppage lasted three months. A full walkout of USW workers would threaten to disrupt as much as 64 percent of U.S. fuel production. Shell and union representatives began negotiations amid the biggest collapse in oil prices since 2008.
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