Teamsters at Marathon Refinery overwhelmingly reject management’s offer
St. Paul Park, MN – On June 22, five months after going on a one-day strike for safety, then being locked out by Marathon management ever since, 200 Teamsters at Marathon Refinery in Saint Paul Park voted overwhelmingly to reject the company's latest contract offer. Marathon management labeled its offer as being the “last, best and final” offer according to Teamsters Local 120, which represents the workers.
The union has made attempts to get Marathon to clarify the specifics of their offer around multiple points, but management has failed to provide that clarification, making it impossible for the Teamsters members to agree to the offer.
Scott Kroona, business agent for Teamsters 120 said, “This has been going on a long time, so we thought it was a good time to let our members be heard.” He added, “I think our members made their voices loud and clear.”
One of the key issues that resulted in the strike and then lockout have been attempts by the company to combine jobs with fewer people to do them, which workers have said would make it impossible to react to an emergency in time to prevent it from turning into a catastrophic disaster.
In many cases, the units these workers maintain and run are larger than a football field so travel time alone adds a dangerous amount of lag time to responses. In the event of fires – which are nearly inevitable in this type of facility – workers say they often only have seconds to respond before a fire can spread to multiple units and become a much more serious safety disaster for the workers and for anyone within as much as a 50-mile zone.
In addition to fires and explosions themselves, a fire that is let go too long can result in an acid infused cloud capable of causing mortal risk to those who encounter it. Much of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area is within the high-risk zone in an accident of this type.
Additionally, the company recently ended the use of an onsite fire department and instead began depending on nearby city fire departments, which can take much longer to respond in an emergency compared to the onsite department.
Based on the size of the crowd of Teamsters reviewing the offer and voting largely to reject it, it is clear that the workers are committed to continue fighting for the safety of the workers, their families, and residents of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area.