Strike Threatens SuperAmerica Station Shutdown

Union refinery workers say customers would "need to go elsewhere for fuel this winter"

Published in CSP Daily News

By  Greg Lindenberg, Online Editor

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Fuel refinery workers said they are willing to strike and shut off the pumps at SuperAmerica gas stations over changes proposed by their new bosses. Workers at the Northern Tier Energy LP refinery in St. Paul Park, Minn., voted to walk off the job if their company's new owner, Western Refining Inc., makes cuts that the union said could "dramatically undermine" safety, reported The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

El Paso, Texas-based Western Refining agreed to buy a controlling interest in Northern Tier Energy LLC for $775 million in November.

On Dec. 16, workers from the Northern Tier refinery in St. Paul Park, Minn. voted overwhelmingly to strike if necessary, rejecting cuts proposed by management that the union, Teamsters Local 120, representing approximately 200 workers, said could affect the safety of operations.

"Management's proposals to eliminate jobs, cut wages as much as 40%, and enforce other onerous changes to working conditions will drive trained professionals away from this very dangerous work," union member Joe Riley said in a press release by Teamsters Local 120.

Ridgefield, Conn.-based 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," union member Chris Riley added.

Teamsters Local 120 also represents workers at Northern Tier's SuperMom's Bakery, which supplies SuperAmerica retail stores.

When reached for a comment by CSP Daily News, Northern Tier spokesperson Christine Carnicelli would only say that "negotiations are ongoing with the Teamsters Local 120 [and that] the contract does not expire until Dec. 31."

Western Refining is an independent refining and marketing company with headquarters in El Paso, Texas. The refining segment operates refineries in El Paso, and Gallup, N.M. The wholesale segment includes a fleet of crude oil and finished product truck transports and wholesale petroleum products operations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia. The retail segment includes retail service stations and convenience stores in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. Western's Howdy's and Giant convenience stores are in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California. It also owns the general partner and approximately 65% of the limited partner interest of Western Refining Logistics Partners LP, which owns and operates logistics assets related to the terminalling, transportation, and storage of crude oil and refined products.