Image source: Kalyakan-

On October 30, 2020, the Marathon oil refinery in Contra Costa County, California, was permanently shut down and 345 unionized workers laid off. A new study from the UC Berkeley Labor Center found that 74% of former Marathon workers (excluding retirees) had found new jobs. Nearly one in five (19%) were not employed but actively searching for work. Their unemployment rate was 22.5% Their jobs paid $12 per hour less than their Marathon jobs, a 24% cut in pay. 

The report made eight recommendations to support displaced workers, including:

  • Extended cash payments to maintain pre-layoff income levels
  • Financial support to cover the 24% average gap in workers’ pre-layoff wages and their post-layoff wages
  • Bridge-to-retirement funding that provides full retirement benefits to workers eligible for early retirement within one year following layoff

 In an op-ed about the report, Tracy Scott, President of Steelworkers Local 5, which represents Marathon workers, wrote:

In California and across the country, working people support addressing climate change and transitioning to renewable energy. But when refineries like the former Marathon facility shut down without a clear plan in place that involves unions from the outset, workers and the community inevitably get left behind.

In order to guarantee that California has an economy that works for everybody, impacted workers must be at the center of planning for the ongoing transition to clean energy, and they must have access to union jobs that guarantee financial security, strong protections, and good benefits.

Read the Report Summary: UC Berkeley Report – Refinery Closures

Read Tracy Scott’s op ed: Newsweek Local 5