Throughout the country, the labor community is rising up and speaking out against what they feel is a betrayal of local workers, who dedicate portions of their career to training and professionalism.
A recent decision by Marathon at a refinery in Minnesota sparked their labor community to come together in collective action against the petroleum giant. Steamfitters and Pipefitters Local 455 Business Manager Tony Poole joined AWF Union Podcast to detail the action and why it is needed.
Marathon refinery strike
Poole said the local community has enjoyed the skilled labor of the area building trades on the refinery for some time. However, Marathon has recently decided to bring in unskilled workers to replace the highly trained union members.
The switch from union to non-union building trades labor has caused the roughly 220 Teamsters members working in the refinery to go on strike. Poole said the strike has now lasted approximately 10 weeks.
While the Teamsters are doing their part at the refinery, Poole said members of the various building trades unions have taken to local speedways, which are owned by Marathon, and began bannering them. This has been an effective strategy according to Poole.
Safety in refineries
Poole said the non-union labor puts the safety of all workers in the refinery at risk. The workers typically work on hydrochloric acid lines, which if damaged can leak skin piercing acid onto workers.
The solution is legislative according to Poole. He said the building trades are continuing to work with members of the state government to pass legislation requiring apprenticeship training to work on oil refinery projects. This legislation has made it through numerous committees and is gaining momentum.