Progress at the Refineries

The work of IBEW 11 has helped to make significant safety changes while guaranteeing good-paying jobs in the state’s refinery industry.

Senate Bill 54, a refinery safety law sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council in 2013, passed in November 2016, resulting in sweeping changes for how work is addressed in the state’s refineries. The legislation mandates that outside contractors used in onsite maintenance and construction work meet skill and training requirements. Refineries had relied heavily on union labor up until the early 1990s. However, in subsequent decades the industry became largely marked by companies hiring non-union workers from outside of coastal Southern California.

A 2012 explosion at the Chevron refinery in Richmond expelled toxic smoke into the air impacting the health of nearby city residents. During that time environmental groups were reaching out to the public about pollution issues, and capital improvement projects were being created to bring the refineries up to a higher safety standard. Labor made the case to the environmental groups that without proper worker training, the high risk of blow-ups and leaks would climb, despite capital improvements. Since the passage of SB 54, the robust training capacity and high quality standards of IBEW Local 11 and other unions have been transforming the industry.

There are a number of classes at the ETI for this work including Industrial Skills Orientation. 20 hour RSO, NFPE 70E, Pipe Bending, Motor Controls and Instrumentation classes are ongoing.

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