Layoffs finally began for employees of ConocoPhillips’ idled and embattled refinery in Trainer, Delaware County.
Pink slips arrived Friday, but with closure on the horizon for several months, workers have already started looking for plan B, according to Denis Stephano, head of the United Steelworkers Local 10-234.
“I know a number of people who have put applications in at other industrial facilities … and, of course, working on employment, filing for unemployment and doing that sort of thing,” Stephano said.
Union members agreed to a severance package last week including up to 16 weeks of pay and the possibility of transfer to the company’s other facilities. It’s unclear how many transfers will be available.
Stephano says people are looking for similar jobs elsewhere, such as “small chemical plants that an operator coming out of a refinery would have experience in and wouldn’t miss a beat when they went to work there.”ConocoPhillips has laid off half its 385 workers. The rest will be laid off by the end of the month. Stephano, who said many of them may eventually leave the area, anticipates that the local economy will take a big hit. A nearby Sunoco refinery is also idle and up for sale.