Workers rally to save local plants, jobs

MARCUS HOOK - November 5, 2011

Sirens and fire trucks, flags and super heroes lead workers though the streets of Marcus Hook Saturday.

While the trappings might be festive, the message is deadly serious; the threat of losing more, good paying jobs.

In the balance more than two thousand jobs, that is the combined number of workers at the Conoco-Phillips plant in Trainer, and Sunoco's last two refineries in Philadelphia and Marcus Hook.

If new owners can't be found, the three plants will be closed for good. Some workers marched on Saturday.

"Look at magnitude of people walking up here; all of these people that are going to be out of work," said Valarie Felker. "It's amazing."

The industry says east coast refining has become too costly in face of cheaper gasoline refined elsewhere. In some cases, it is imported into the United States.

"Our Jobs are being replaced by foreign imports. That's exactly what is going on here. It did happen in steel industry, and it happened in the auto industry," says Jim Savage, Local Union President.

Along the march, route neighbors were sympathetic. If the century old refineries close, the loss in taxes could devastate the boroughs of Marcus Hook and Trainer.

"We have many senior citizens in our area, and we would have to raise taxes and they could not afford it," said Mayor Fran Zalewski. "Everything would be shut down because there would be no money."

Congressman Pat Meehan and US Senator Bob Casey are leading political efforts to try to find new buyers. They both attended Saturday's post-march rally.

"We are going to work together; Democrats and Republicans, no partisanship on this issue. We are fighting for jobs," announced Senator Robert Casey.

Workers may need a super hero to save their jobs, because time is tight. The Conoco Phillips plant is already off line, and the Sunoco plants could be shuttered by next summer.

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