Union workers at Detroit’s Marathon refinery approve strike authorization

The Teamster’s contract with the petroleum giant expired at the end of January.

Marathon oil refinery in Detroit.

Marathon oil refinery in Detroit.

Union workers at Detroit’s Marathon Petroleum refinery have authorized their leadership to call for a strike if they cannot reach a new contract with the oil company.

The union’s contract with the petroleum giant expired at the end of January.

Teamsters Local 283 president Steve Hicks says members’ demands include a pay increase to match inflation and a change in four days on, four days off work schedules — which can switch from morning to midnight shifts.

The union is also demanding the wage increase to reflect their fair share of the profits Hicks claims the company is earning.

“If you’re making $17.4 billion in a quarter…the profits are crazy,” Hicks said. “People are saying a strike will cause the price of gas to go up. The price of gas goes up because of corporate greed — not because of workers.”

Hicks also believes the current work schedule is a safety hazard for exhausted employees.

“Is it (Detroit refinery) safe for the city of Detroit and the citizens? That plant has…a lot of dangerous chemicals in it,” the union leader said.

While the massive refinery has a good safety record, Hicks believes the facility could “go up like an atom bomb” if an exhausted worker makes a mistake.

Marathon officials said in a statement the company has contingency plans to operate the facility with trained and qualified people in the event of a work stoppage.

The refinery can produce as many as 140,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

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  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.