The ConocoPhillips refinery in Trainer, Delaware County has been idle since September, and its first layoffs are now scheduled to being in late January.
The company had hoped to sell the facility by now. “I want to be optimistic about somebody buying a refinery,” said Denis Stephano, president of Steelworkers local 10-234, the union representing the refinery workers. “But the fact is, I am not optimistic.” He says around 500 workers are expected to be laid off. He’s upset, but understands that despite gas costing over $3 a gallon, the refining business isn’t as profitable as it once was. “Maybe the economics aren’t as good as they should be, but they will be good again,” said Stephano, “because this business is cyclical.” ConocoPhillips says it will attempt to redeploy the employees within the company, but for highly-specialized workers, that can mean moving. “Some people are willing to move,” said Stephano. “It’s a good job. It’s a good-paying, middle-class job.” Stephano says he’d consider moving, but that it isn’t an easy choice for anyone to make.