MARTINEZ — Contra Costa sheriff’s deputies were called to control a crowd of 100 steel worker union picketers when a protest in front of the Shell oil refinery got out of hand Wednesday afternoon.

The picketers belong to United Steel Workers Union Local No. 5. They represented workers at the Shell, Chevron and Tesoro refineries. The workers’ contract expires Saturday at midnight.

About 4:40 p.m., the sheriff’s office responded to a report of some picketers who were lying down in the middle of Pacheco Boulevard, in front of the Shell refinery. By 5 p.m., the protest had calmed down and traffic was moving, sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee said.

Reach Roman Gokhman at 925-945-4780, or at [email protected].