PES to begin laying off union refinery workers on Thursday: sources

(Reuters) – Refiner Philadelphia Energy Solutions will begin dismissing some of its 640 union workers on Thursday, more than a week before its stated Aug. 25 termination date, two sources familiar with the plan said.

It was not clear how many of the workers would be dismissed early from the East Coast’s largest and oldest oil refinery, but one of the sources said it would be “a significant number.”

Union employees are expected to be paid through Aug. 25, the sources said, as the fire-damaged plant continues to wind down operations after the company filed for bankruptcy protection last month. PES has said it hopes to sell the plant to a buyer that would restart it.

PES was not immediately available to comment.

The company has declined to offer workers severance pay and has said it would halt health insurance coverage at month’s end.

PES entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 21, a month after a fire at the 335,000-barrel-per-day plant destroyed an alkylation unit used in the production of gasoline. The company had emerged from a previous bankruptcy last year.

PES initially said it would dismiss union and non-union employees by mid-July following the fire, but it later extended the employment of the plant’s union workers.

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