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Union Rescinds Strike Notice

HOUSTON -- A national oil workers' union rescinded a strike notice on Thursday for refineries belonging to the biggest U.S. oil companies and awaited a fresh offer from the companies.

This averts a threatened strike at six U.S. oil refineries, which could have begun as early as Friday. The current contract for most unionized oil workers in the nation expires at midnight Thursday, Reuters reported.

The current terms will be extended on a "day-to-day basis subject to a 24-hour notice of canceling the extension," said Lynne Baker, spokeswoman for the Paper, Allied-Industrial Chemical and Energy Workers International (PACE) union.

Earlier on Thursday, the union gave strike notice at Exxon Mobil Corp.'s Beaumont, Texas plant, BP's Texas City, Texas plant, ChevronTexaco Corp.'s refinery in Richmond, Calif. and three California refineries owned by Phillips Petroleum Co.

Shell Oil, the lead company in talks being held in Nashville, Tennessee, with PACE negotiators, said it aimed for an agreement before the deadline. The negotiators wanted to reach a settlement Thursday night but the day-to-day extension of the current terms means that plans for a walkout and picket lines are shelved for now, the report said.

The oil companies were prepared to continue running refineries with non-union workers, officials at the companies said Thursday.
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