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Threatened strike averted as contract reached for St. Paul Park oil refinery workers

Contract negotiators struck a deal for St. Paul Park oil refinery workers hours before a threatened strike was to begin.

Northern Tier Energy, which owns the refinery, and the Teamsters Local 120 reached agreement on a new three-year contract, said Chris Riley, the union’s business manager.

The deal came about 5 p.m. Tuesday. The union planned to strike Jan. 1 if there was not a settled contract.

“It was ugly,” Riley said Thursday, later adding: “Our guys were ready to walk out at 12:01 a.m.”

The agreement calls for 3-percent annual raises for the union’s roughly 190 workers, Riley said. It does not include any job or pay cuts that Riley said were part of an earlier company proposal.

“We really didn’t take any concessions,” Riley said.

Union members are expected to vote on the deal Jan. 8.

A Northern Tier Energy spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

The refinery produces gasoline and diesel fuel and other petroleum-based fuels and products. Northern Tier Energy also owns SuperAmerica gas stations and the SuperMom’s bakery line.

In November, Texas-based Western Refining bought a controlling share of Northern Tier Energy.

There is recent history of difficult negotiations at the refinery. In 2006, the Teamsters went on strike amid a contract stalemate. The union picketed for seven weeks before a contract was settled.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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