United Steelworkers Union (USW) activists from Local 12-591 delivered 5,000 petitions this week to Governor Neil Abercrombie , requesting his help in finding a buyer for Tesoro's Kapolei refinery.
The activists also requested that the governor appoint a USW representative to his committee that is examining the effect of a Tesoro refinery closure on the Hawaii economy. The USW represents the majority of workers at the refinery.
The USW expects a response from the governor.
"Shutting down the Tesoro Kapolei refinery is going to heavily impact our community," said Local 12-591 unit chair Pat Koge . "Not only will 210 high-paid refinery jobs be lost, but so will 2,000 other jobs that are dependent on the refinery and workers' paychecks."
"Turning the refinery into a terminal and importing fuel is likely to bring higher gas prices and possibly supply problems. Why should the fuel be refined overseas when we can do it right here at home and not throw people out of work?" Koge said.
Previously, Gov. Abercrombie stated:
“After a good faith effort to continue current refining operations, Tesoro Hawaii has determined that it is in its own best business interests to convert its Hawaii refinery into a terminal facility.
“We have offered to work with Tesoro Hawaii in exploring remaining options and achieving an orderly transition for its employees and the state’s energy needs.
While the United States Steel Workers union has an obvious vested interest in keeping the refinery open, it is also in Hawaiian motorists interests to keep the plant running to minimize the chance of future price spikes. If the plant does not stay open, Hawaii will be left with just one small refinery, opening the doors to increasing volatility should the remaining facility suffer set backs or perform maintenance.