CARSON (CBSLA.com) — The United Steel Workers (USW) union has called a strike at the refinery in Carson, as well as eight other refineries across the country.

“It’s the biggest strike we’ve been in in 35 years. Our backs are against the wall,” according to David Campbell, a local USW representative who was out picketing with union workers outside the refinery Sunday.

Eight hundred workers are on strike at the Tesoro refinery in Carson after negotiations with Shell Oil Company broke down.

The biggest issue workers have with refineries like Tesoro is fatigue.

“They say that a certain amount of fatigue is comparable to being drunk, so when you’re working seven to eight days, 12 hours a day, it creates a safety hazard,” refinery worker Erica Kent said.

USW also listed other grievances such as daily occurrences of fires, emissions, leaks and explosions. Other key issues are erosion of the workplace and unsafe staffing.

“They’re not hiring new workers to replace the ones that are retiring, dying, quitting,” Campbell said. “If they don’t get serious about the issues we will up the ante.”

USW says that will mean more strikes at more refineries across the country.

Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said in an email Saturday, “…the the company remained committed to resolving our difference with USW at the negotiating table and hope to resume negotiations as early as possible.”

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