Denis Stephano says we can’t say we weren’t warned.
Stephano is the laid-off union boss representing workers at the ConocoPhillips refinery in Trainer.
We took our “Live From the Newsroom” Internet live-stream webcast on the road again last night, making another trek to the union hall in Linwood to talk to refinery workers union leaders. You can check out the replay here.
“Have you bought gas lately,” Stephano greeted me as I walked into the hall.
Count Stephano among those who see a link between the shutdowns of the ConocoPhillips and Sunoco refineries in Trainer and Marcus Hook and a spike in gas prices.
He said as much during a rally last week in Washington, D.C. Stephano warns that we’ll be paying more than $4 a gallon come summer, and that next winter heating oil will be through the roof, and jet fuel also is going to be more expensive. Bottom line? Almost everything is going to cost more because of the cost of gas.
Stephano put it a bit more bluntly. “It’s called price-fixing,” he said.
There was news on two fronts on the crucial refinery issue yesterday.
Workers at the Sunoco Marcus Hook refinery and the company have agreed on a tentative deal for their severance packages. You can read about that here.
Then there was this little item from Jim Savage. He’s the president of United Steelworkers Local 10-1, which represents workers at the company’s South Philly refinery. That one is still operating – for now. Both the Trainer and Marcus Hook plants have been shut down. The workforce in Trainer has been laid off, and a similar process is getting underway in the Hook.
Much has been made of both companies’ statements that they are interested in finding a buyer for the three refineries. But Sunoco officials have been pretty clear in pointing out that despite overtures from as many as 150 companies, they have not received one legitimate offer to buy the plant and operate it as a refinery. In the meantime, the process grinds on toward shutting down the facilities.
Savage, for one, has his doubts about the company line. He said last night he knows there was at least one legitimate bid, and in pretty blunt language alleges the company is not exactly being forthright in their efforts.
Maybe that's why Sen. Robert Casey and others are planning a series of hearings on the issue. There is one being held today in Philadelphia by Democratic state reps.
Stephano paints a gloomy picture of what is going to happen in the lower end of the county. That’s particularly true of the Conoco facility, which the company has indicated will be demolished if no buyer comes forward.
“Once that promise starts, there’s no coming back,” Stephano warns.
In the meantime, brace yourself for higher prices. For just about everything.