ST. PAUL PARK, Minn. — Two hundred oil refinery workers have been locked in battle here since Jan. 21 against Marathon Petroleum, the largest oil refining company in the country. They deserve and need solidarity from working people.
At issue is the bosses’ attempts to replace dozens of union maintenance and production jobs with subcontractors, along with increasing the workload for other workers. The union says the company’s demands threaten the safety of workers both in the refinery and people who live nearby.
Jim Swanson, an electrician, told the Militant that during summer months barges deliver oil that is “loaded and unloaded by the union maintenance workers. The company wants these jobs to be contracted out and some of these jobs to be on call.”
Highly toxic hydrofluoric acid is used at the refinery. The union points out that the chemical is considered so volatile that authorities in Superior, Wisconsin, evacuated much of the town in 2018 after an explosion took place near the tanks where the acid was stored.
Drivers for Kwik Trip, a gas station chain, and Barton Sand and Gravel Co. refuse to cross the picket line, workers told this Militant correspondent during a solidarity visit to their picket line Feb. 27. Management personnel at Canadian Pacific Railway are taking trains into the refinery, they said, after CP rail workers refused to do so.
Support for the refinery workers’ fight has been won from area workers and unionists, who have provided food, firewood and more. Teamsters picket 24/7 and welcome all who want to help out. Visit their picket line and send messages of support and contributions to the lockout fund at Teamsters Local 120, 9422 Ulysses St. NE, Blaine, MN 55434.
Teamster Local 120 business agent Scott Kroona told the Militant the union is organizing roving picket teams to Speedway gas stations urging drivers not to buy gas supplied by Marathon, telling them it was being produced during the lockout. The union has continued its food bank for the workers and local community and will have two more food distributions in March.
The company has refused further talks with the union until March 23.