On the Picket Line

Bay Area unionists in solidarity action with Chevron strikers

By Betsey Stone
April 18, 2022

RICHMOND, Calif. — Dozens of unionists, including Teamsters, Machinists, Electrical Workers and others, joined the picket line at the Chevron refinery here March 28 to show solidarity with oil workers on strike. The action was called by the Contra Costa County Labor Council. 

Samantha Webster, a grocery worker at Safeway in Hercules, came along with other members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, who are also in a contract fight. “We have to support each other,” Webster told this Militant  worker-correspondent. “Like the strikers here, we deserve respect and more pay.” 

Oscar Jimenez joined the picket line after finishing his shift at the Marathon refinery in Martinez. Workers there, who like Chevron workers are members of United Steelworkers Local 5, recently rejected the company’s contract offer. 

The last strike at Chevron, which produces 13% to 14% of the state’s refining capacity, was in 1980. “We had to stand up,” striker Francisco Caldera told the Militant. “Not just for wages, but because we need respect. We were out here working throughout the pandemic while the managers worked from home. And they treated us arrogantly when they came back.” 

Caldera, who has worked for 20 years as an operator, supports the union’s demand for Chevron to reduce overtime and hire more workers. “I’ve been working a minimum of 50 hours a week, and usually a lot more,” he said. Pointing to his young daughter who was with him at the picket, he said, “We need more family time.”