HOUSTON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - The United Steelworkers union told U.S. refinery workers to prepare to offer safe and orderly refinery shutdowns prior to a strike as early as 12 a.m. Feb 1, according to sources familiar with the union's preparations.
Most refiners are expected to reject the offer and begin assigning temporary replacement workers to begin operating refinery units if USW-represented workers begin walking off their jobs.
The notice to prepare for a strike does not mean a strike will take place, the sources said. Talks between the union and oil company representatives for a new three-year agreement were continuing on Sunday.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; editing by Sophie Walker)