Krueger: We must protect workers as PES closes

HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Leanne Krueger, D-Delaware, today issued a statement following news reports that Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) would be closing its South Philadelphia refinery.

“Today we learned that despite the hundreds of employees seeking to return to work after last week’s fire at PES, the company’s executives have decided to shutter the refinery,” she said. “After years of laying off employees, and maximizing profits for private equity and out-of-state corporations, PES’ decision to close its South Philadelphia refinery is especially stinging to the workers and their families.

“Last week’s fire and explosion was frightening for many of us, but especially for the workers who were on site at the time and worked hard to mitigate the damage and save lives. They deserve answers to what caused last week’s fire and resulting explosion and while the investigation is underway, I will work with local labor leaders — especially from United Steelworkers, who represents the employees of the refinery, many of whom live and raise their families in Delaware County — to ensure that the displaced workers get the short-term and long-term resources they need to provide for their families.

“As Secretary of the House Committee on Labor and Industry, I have already been in touch with the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to urge him to hold the company accountable. The first step should be to hold PES to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act provisions that oblige 60-day notice of layoffs.

“I am grateful that Governor Wolf has directed the Department of Environment Protection use its enforcement mechanisms to ensure that the company decommissions the plant responsibly and no corners are cut on mitigating environmental damage at the site.

“As a mom and a member of the Delaware County community, my heart is heavy for those families who will be without a good-paying union job in the household in the coming weeks. Twenty-eight of these workers are my constituents. My office will be available to help them with any state assistance available.”