Union slams BP for giving refinery jobs to out-of-staters

By Jon Chavez - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (TNS)

About 50 members of a local union staged informational picketing Monday outside BP-Husky Toledo Refinery in Oregon to show their disapproval of the oil company’s decision to use out-of-state workers for a maintenance turnaround at the refinery.

“Here’s a perfect example of what corporate greed does. BP has on its website a commitment to jobs and economic security and you have two or three generations of people from here that have worked there, yet they’re bringing in people from Texas — a hotspot of Covid — to do jobs that we would normally be doing,” said Scott Lopez, business representative for United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of Local 50, Plumbers and Pipefitters.

Mr. Lopez said his local union has 140 members laid off who could fill the approximately 50 jobs needed for the maintenance turnaround at the refinery, located at 4001 Cedar Point Rd., that are now being filled by out-of-state workers. Local 50 represents over 1,500 union workers.

Jobs for a “turnaround” — which involves replacing worn out pipes and machinery — typically pay between $30 to $45 an hour for what could be up to six months’ work when pre-maintenance and post-maintenance jobs are included. The turnaround at the refinery began last week.

Union members gathered outside the refinery’s Gate 17 on Dupont Road beginning at 6 a.m. Monday and remained there for several hours.

“Those jobs were really needed in this economy. We work here, we play here, we do everything here in this community,” Mr. Lopez said. “Right now you have all this uproar by small business owners begging people to come and patronize their establishments. You can’t spend money if you don’t have a job and right now BP is bringing in people from Texas to take away our jobs.”

Sarah Howell, a spokesman for BP-Husky, said the oil company is committed to safe and compliant operations and to ongoing relationships with all its contractors.

“We have a long history of providing thousands of good paying jobs to local workers and can only continue to do this if we have a competitive business. The refinery is planning to invite qualified non-union contractors with proven safety and performance records to participate in sourcing activities for select refinery work,” she added.

Mr. Lopez said there were no plans to return for more informational picketing at the refinery, but that the union is contemplating future activities to highlight the issue.

“It’s just the beginning of the campaign,” Mr. Lopez said.

“We’ve been reaching out to state politicians to let them know BP is not a friendly neighbor in our community,” he said. “… I just don’t get it. I mean, what they’re doing, that’s just not being a good partner.”


By Jon Chavez

The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (TNS)

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