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Minnesota: Marathon Refinery locks out Teamsters

By staff |
February 2, 2021
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Workers on the picket line at Marathon Refinery.
Workers on the picket line at Marathon Refinery. (Fight Back! News/staff)

St. Paul Park, MN - Teamsters Local 120 members at Marathon Refinery in Saint Paul Park have been locked out by Marathon management for more than ten days, after a 24-hour strike by the workers.

Teamsters agreed to end their strike after 24 hours as a new round of bargaining was scheduled for January 25. However, when the Teamsters attempted to return to work, they were instead locked out by the employer and not allowed to return. That Monday, no deal was reached and there are no more dates scheduled to resume bargaining.

Many unions and union members have marched on the picket lines in solidarity alongside the Teamsters throughout this strike-turned-lockout. This week, on Thursday, February 4, at 6 p.m. Teamsters 120 is holding a rally on the picket line and many unions plan to attend. You can join the rally at the intersection of 2nd Street and Broadway in Saint Paul Park.

Much of the reason the Teamsters were striking revolved around safety at the refinery. The Saint Paul Park refinery utilizes hydrofluoric acid, the same chemical which caused the evacuation of Superior, Wisconsin after the explosion at the Husky refinery in 2018. According to the union, they offered the unconditional return specifically to minimize the risk of accident with the toxic chemical.

When asked why he was out on the picket line, a 17-year refinery worker said, “The company wants to outsource our jobs to lower paid, less trained workers. This is a safety deal. The company is trying to make us do more than is safe.”

Teamsters Local 120 President Tom Erickson said, “I have been involved in union negotiations for over 30 years. I have never seen a company do something as reckless as what Marathon did tonight. Their decision could have major consequences to people’s lives. For the sake of everyone I pray they get lucky and it doesn’t.”

At this point with no further bargaining scheduled. It is unclear when there will be an end in sight to this lockout.

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