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Occupational pay structure in petroleum refineries.

Occupational pay structure in petroleum refineries Hourly earnings of production workers in the Nation's petroleum refineries averaged $14.20 in June 1985, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics wage survey. Just over nine-tenths of the 51,203 workers covered by the survey earned between $12 and $16 an hour; about one-half had earnings within a $1 range--$14.50 to $15.50. The number of refineries paying single rates for individual occupations contributed substantially to this narrow spread, as did the relatively large proportion of skilled workers in the industry, the concentrations of employment in relatively few large companies, and the high degree of collective bargaining with a single union (the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union, AFL-CIO).

Refinery workers averaged 23 percent more in June 1985 than in May 1981, when the last survey was conducted. This increase compares with a 22-percent rise in the wage and salary component of the Bureau's Employment Cost Index for all manufacturing industries between the second quarters of 1981 and 1985. The petroleum industry's wage change largely reflected increases granted to nearly seven-eighths of the workers under collective bargaining agreements. Provisions for automatic cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), triggered primarily by specified changes in the BLS Consumer Price Index, applied to less than 5 percent of the work force.

Among the eight geographic regions studied in 1985, pay levels for six fell within 4 percent of the industry's nationwide average ($14.20 an hour). Averages were about 10 percent below this mark in the Western Pennsylvania-West Virginia region and in the Texas Inland-North Louisiana-Arkansas region. Regionally, pay levels of production and related workers ranged from $12.65 in Western Pennsylvania-West Virginia to $14.62 in the East Coast region. Workers in the Texas-Louisiana-Gulf Coast region, where two-fifths of the industry's work force was concentrated, averaged $14.50 an hour.

Twenty-six occupations, accounting for nearly four-fifths of the production workers, were selected to represent the wage structure and activities of production and related workers in the industry. (See table 1.) Among these jobs, average hourly earnings ranged from $11.41 for laborers to $15.38 for chief operators of stills. Assistant operators, who help chief operators maintain stills, accounted for one-fifth of the industry's work force and averaged $14.45 an hour. Chief operators' helpers, who maintain required temperatures in furnaces of stills and pumpers, averaged $13.65 and $14.49 an hour, respectively.

Average hourly earnings of the nine journeyman maintenance trades studied were closely grouped--ranging from $14.07 for machinery mechanics to $14.82 for boilermakers. General mechanics, the most numerous of these workers, averaged $14.60 an hour. General mechanic includes skilled workers operating under maintenance craft consolidation plans (which combine two crafts or more into a single job), and mechanics working in small refineries where specialization in maintenance work is impractical. Maintenance trades helpers averaged $12.77--9 percent below the lowest paid journeyman trade studied.

Paid holidays, usually 10 days annually, were provided to all production workers in the industry. All refineries studied also provided paid vacations to their production workers after qualifying periods of service. Typically, workers received 2 weeks of vacation pay after 1 year of service, 3 weeks after 5 years, 4 weeks after 10 years, 5 weeks after 15 years, and 6 weeks after 30 years. Virtually all refinery workers were provided at least part of the cost of life, hospitalization, surgical, basic medical, and major medical insurance, as well as retirement plans. Dental insurance and full or partial paid sick leave were provided to just over nine-tenths of the workers. Accidental death and dismemberment insurance was available to slightly more than four-fifths of the work force; long-term disability insurance, to nearly three-fifths; and sickness and accident insurance, to two-fifths. Health plan coverage was usually financed jointly by the employer and employee.

The petroleum refining industry includes establishments engaged primarily in producing gasoline, kerosene, distillate fuel oil, residual fuel oils, lubricants, and other products from crude petroleum and its fractionation products. Production is accomplished through straight distillation of crude oil, redistillation of unfinished petroleum derivatives, cracking, or other processes as defined in the Standard Industrial Classification Manual, 1972, prepared by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

The 142 refineries within scope of the survey (those with at least 100 workers) employed 51,203 production and related workers in June 1985, down 22 percent from the 65,566 recorded in May 1981. Employment declines among the eight regions studied ranged from 2 percent in the West Coast to 40 percent in the East Coast, but typically ranged from about 20 to 30 percent among the other six regions. Much of this employment loss resulted from a lesser demand for petroleum products and the increased use of computerized processing equipment and other technological innovations.

Gasoline--including naphtha--was the major product of refineries employing more than nine-tenths of the prdouction workers covered by the survey. Other products included distillated fuel oil, residual fuel oil, jet fuel, lubricating oil, and asphalt. Most workers in the Western Pennsylvania-West Virginia region were employed in refineries that were primarily manufacturing products other than gasoline, usually lubricating oil or distillate fuel oil. Refineries employing nearly three-fifths of the industry's workers were also processing petrochemicals.

A comprehensive report on the survey findings of Industry Wage Survey: Petroleum Refining, June 1985 (Bulletin 2255), may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC 20402, or from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Publications Sales Center, P.O. Box 2145, Chicago, IL 60690.
COPYRIGHT 1986 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics wage survey
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Jul 1, 1986
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