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US union looking for buyer of a refinery

14 February, 2013The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) union in the US is seeking a buyer for the Hess Oil Refinery in Port Reading, New Jersey, after the owner announced its closure.

The UE, an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, represents the workers at the 70,000-barrel a day refinery and is seeking a buyer to keep the refinery open, preserve jobs and protect the supply of gasoline to the local market.

"Finding a buyer to operate the Port Reading refinery is more than just saving the hundreds of good family-supporting jobs that depend on it," said UE National President Bruce Klipple.

"The New Jersey-New York region needs the gasoline refining capacity that the Hess facility provides. Without it customers will pay higher prices and see more of the life-threatening and costly episodes as we experienced during Hurricane Sandy," explained Klipple.

Millions of gasoline customers in the New Jersey-New York region were subjected to crippling gas shortages during Hurricane Sandy late last year. The Port Reading Hess refinery supplied critical fuel to emergency first responders from the tri-state area during the storm and resumed operations after just several days.

Multiple refinery closures in the northeast and U.S. in recent years have led to much higher fuel prices, frequent price increases, and disruptive shortages.  

Within days of the announcement of the refinery¹s closure, retail gasoline prices hit an all-time seasonal high in the U.S. Oil industry analysts linked the spike in price directly to the refinery¹s imminent cessation of operations and other refinery-related factors.

"Refinery closures in the developed world are a big threat against employment of workers who have contributed to the growth of this business for many years. What UE does right now by seeking a new buyer is a respectable and responsible union policy. IndustriALL Global Union will continue to give its full support to UE in this important drive," said IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina.