Philadelphia Inquirer: Union to honor 2 in management for saving refinery

By Jane M. Von Bergen

Nothing unusual about the banquet menu lined up for Saturday evening’s steelworkers union awards dinner – boneless breast of chicken, linguine Alfredo for the vegetarians.

But two honorees at the event at a South Philadelphia union hall will be anything but typical. The United Steelworkers Local 10-1 will honor two high-ranking management executives with “Solidarity and Appreciation Awards.”

But, Savage added, he could have “gone to Washington [lobbying] until the cows come home, but if no one was willing to buy the refinery,” the union’s members would have been out of work. Savage believes most of those union workers would have been unable to ever land jobs that would have paid as well.

True, the idea of a private-equity owner worried him. “You think private equity – they’ll come in and strip and flip you,” Savage said. “But they’ve put millions of dollars here.”

“We’ve tried to create alignment between Carlyle investors, the company’s management, and the workforce so everybody is paddling in the same direction,” Marchick said.

Savage said the tone for the relationship with the refinery’s new owners was established during the first round of negotiations.

At that point, two other refineries in the area were already shut down, and his members faced the daunting prospect of unemployment.

“They could have walked in the room and handed me a [contract proposal] and I also know, no matter what was in the document, I would have taken it to my members,” Savage said. “Those people were going to vote yes no matter what that document said.

“They treated us with respect and dignity at the bargaining table in a situation where they didn’t have to,” Savage said, “and it says something about them.”

To read the complete article, click here.