Members of the union group United Steelworkers at the BP oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana, joined a labor strike against the oil industry just after midnight on Saturday.
More than 1,000 members of the Whiting district joined a national strike against the industry for unfair labor practices. An additional 340 workers at BP refineries in Toledo, Ohio, also joined the strike, which they began at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning.
The employees on strike sent gave notice to BP management on Friday. The strike comes after negotiations with Shell Oil did not adequately address the union's concerns about health and safety, according to USW International Vice President Gary Beevers.
"Shell refused to provideus with a counter-offer and left the bargaining table," USW International President Leo W. Gerard said. "We had no choice but to give notice of a work stoppage."
Among the oil workers complaints are severe overtime, unsafe staffing levels and dangerous working conditions. It is the first nationwide strike in U.S. oil refineries since 1980.
The steelworkers are joining nearly 3,800 other USW oil workers on strike at nine refineries in California, Kentucky, Texas and Washington.
"We are absolutely committed to negotiating a fair contract that improves safety conditions throughout the industry," Gerard said. "Management cannot continue to resist allowing workers a stronger voice on issues that could very well make the difference between life and death for too many of them."