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Nearly 600 Employees At ConocoPhillips Refinery Losing Their Jobs

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By Robin Rieger

MARCUS HOOK, N.J. (CBS) - At New English Style Pizza in Marcus Hook, Joe Salters enjoys a soda and slice of pizza as employees conduct business as usual, for now.

Layoff notices went out for Thursday and Friday at the ConocoPhillips Refinery in nearby Trainer.

“Officially we are finished work by the 31st of January,” said Dennis Stephano, President of the Steelworkers Local Union. He says not only are 190 union members at the refinery losing their jobs, but management and contractors too. He says the total comes to about 600 layoffs.

Joe Hastings says his brother-in-law is one of them.

“They have a mortgage payment, they have car payments, they have medical bills just like everyone else,” said Hastings about his brother-in-law and his wife. They have two children.

It’s likely he and others laid off won’t be spending much locally. The trickle down effect begins.

“If they’re not there, nobody’s going to come,” says George Kolionis, owner of New English Style Pizza. He is trying to stay positive.

“The consumers in the U.S. are going to be impacted by this, this summer. In the winter, heating oil is going to go up, gasoline, jet fuel,” said Stephano.

Conoco Phillips announced on January 25th earnings of $3.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to $2 billion in the same quarter in 2010. Stephano questions the closing despite the company’s announcement in September that it would close this March if a buyer for the site wasn’t found. Workers knew then layoffs would come now says Stephano. He says they will be paid through March according to the union contract and given one weeks pay per year of service capped at 16 weeks.

With Sunoco closing refineries in Marcus Hook and potentially Philadelphia, US Senator Bob Casey is pressing both companies for more information.

“We’re asking them to do what they should do, be concerned about the region, energy markets, and consumers, not only about some bottom line,” said Casey.

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