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Teachers to picket BP in downtown Chicago on March 19 in support of striking refinery workers in Whiting Indiana...

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union will picket at 11:00 a.m. on March 19, 2015 at the offices of BP. BP is the oil company that dumped millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico five years ago after the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed eleven workers. The 2015 action will take place at 30 S. Wacker Drive in Chicago.

Strikers at the BP Whiting refinery. Only five years after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, BP's relentless drive to reduce "staffing costs" even at the expense of safety is one of the major issues in the current strike. Safety staffing and other safety procedures were at issue when the oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico blew five years ago. With the federal government generally in bed with big corporations (especially energy companies like BP), one of the few checks on the dangers of the business comes from the unions and workers who witness the dangers every day. The current Whiting strike is partly about those same issues.

For those with short memories, a fast trip to Wikipedia can bring up the following summary:

"The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill, the BP oil disaster, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Macondo blowout) began on 20 April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-owned Transocean-operated Macondo Prospect. Eleven people were never found, and it is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, an estimated 8% to 31% larger in volume than the previously largest, the "Ixtoc" I oil spill. Following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, a sea-floor oil gusher flowed for 87 days, until it was capped on 15 July 2010. The US Government estimated the total discharge at 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3). After several failed efforts to contain the flow, the well was declared sealed on 19 September 2010. Some reports indicate the well site continues to leak..."

Despite a massive public relations effort by BP, the facts of the history of the Deepwater Horizon spill continue to be the facts. The use of the phrase "accidental" in the Wikipedia entry (above) still angers many who have studied the facts of the spill -- and the families of the workers who were killed when the well blew.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010 was not an "accident" but the result of cost cutting by BP. The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following press release on March 18, 2015:

Strikers at the BP Whiting refinery. Join us to stand in solidarity with United Steelworkers on strike at the BP refinery in Whiting, IN. The USW will be in Chicago on Thursday March 19th @ 11 AM at 30 S. Wacker Dr. Please email the CTU Organizing Department if you can attend.

The BP refinery workers have been on strike as part of a national wave of strike action to demand sufficient staffing levels and other work issues at some of the most dangerous facilities in the country. Although tentative agreements have been struck between USW and other oil companies, BP has been unwilling to move on key issues important to USW workers at the nearby refinery.

For that reason, the USW will lead a picket at 30 S. Wacker Dr. tomorrow, Thursday. If you can show solidarity it can mean a lot to these workers and to the labor movement as a whole.

Just as CTU is showing the importance of teachers advocating for better school conditions on behalf of kids, USW workers are advocating for safer facilities that provide the staffing levels necessary to prevent oil spills, flare-ups and other environmentally destabilizing problems. We have a lot in common, lets show our solidarity.

Please email the CTU Organizing Department to RSVP.



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