(St. Paul, Minn.) – Last night, workers from the Northern Tier refinery in St. Paul Park, Minn. voted overwhelmingly to strike if necessary, rejecting cuts proposed by management that could dramatically undermine the safety of operations. The refinery workers are represented by Teamsters Local 120.
The collective bargaining agreement covering nearly 200 workers at Northern Tier’s only refinery expires on Dec. 31, 2013.
“Management’s proposals to eliminate jobs, cut wages as much as 40 percent, and enforce other onerous changes to working conditions will drive trained professionals away from this very dangerous work,” said Joe Riley, a member of Local 120 who has worked at the refinery for more than 30 years. “In this line of business we worry every day about an explosion or deadly leak. We just cannot work under the proposed conditions, it isn’t safe.”
In November 2013, Western Refining [NYSE: WNR] agreed to pay $775 million to buy out the controlling 38.7 percent interest of Northern Tier from two private equity companies—TPG and Acon Investments– financing the deal with a $550 million bond offering and the balance in cash. Analyst reports suggest that Northern Tier could earn between $320 million and $350 million in net income for 2014 based on projected total revenues exceeding $3 billion. This potentially translates to over $120 million in added earnings for Western in 2014, representing more than 25 percent of projected net income for Western next year.
“Western Refining investors won’t realize any gains if operations are shut down,” warned Chris Riley, Business Agent for Teamsters Local 120. “We simply won’t allow this company to put profits before the safety of our people.”
Northern Tier owns or operates more than 200 SuperAmerica retail outlets in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and supplies its gas stations. “If there is a strike, SuperAmerica customers will need to go elsewhere for fuel this winter,” Chris Riley added.
Northern Tier’s refining segment provides about 72% of the company’s revenue. Teamsters Local 120 also represents workers at Northern Tier’s SuperMom’s Bakery, which supplies SuperAmerica retail stores.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.