Refinery workers return to work in Trainer
TRAINER – As the sun broke through the haze this morning, workers were pulling into the parking lot at Monroe Energy LLC, many for their first day of work since the refinery’s idling nine months ago.
“Great” and “awesome” were repeated many times as the workers greeted each other and talked about what it felt like to be reporting for work again.
“It’s awesome,” Steve Vrobel of Boothwyn said as he arrived wearing a dark blue jumpsuit, hardhat with United Steelworkers stickers on it in his hand. “It’s a good day.”
The 20-year operator stood with his colleagues and commended the efforts of those who rallied to find a buyer and reopen the facility.
“This is great,” he said. “These guys did a great job.”
The 185,000-barrel-per-day refinery belonged to ConocoPhillips, who idled the plant in September and eliminated most of the 400 employees in January.
Federal hearings were held, lobbying efforts launched letter-writing campaigns, visits to Harrisburg and Washington and a 1,000-person march in the fall.
ConocoPhillips planned to completely shut the plant down, and some said there were plans to demolish it, if a new owner hadn’t been found.
Last month, Delta Air Lines announced they reached an agreement of sale with ConocoPhillips to purchase the facility for $180 million -- a price that includes $30 million in state funding and $1 million more from the county's gaming revenues.
Monroe Energy is a subsidiary of Delta, who plans to fulfill 80 percent of its domestic jet fuel needs between the product manufactured at the Delaware County site and exchange agreements they have with energy companies across the United States.
“It’s unbelievable,” County Council Chairman Tom McGarrigle said as he greeted the workers with coffee and danish this morning in Trainer.
Fellow Councilman Dave White added, “(This) maintains their way of life down in Trainer.”
Many of the workers were equally enthused about returning to work as they were with the prospects of their new employer.
“It worked out great,” Rob Shaeffer of Oxford, Pa. said. “I think this is a long-range thing.”
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If you miss it a year from now, thank the assholes who voted for Obama.