Marathon Fails Us

Marathon Petroleum's St. Paul Park refinery is located just 10 miles south of downtown St. Paul, on the banks of the Mississippi River, and processes just over 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day—a fraction of the 375,000 barrels per day processed by the Flint Hills Refinery located across the river in Rosemount.

The St. Paul Park Refinery has changed hands repeatedly over the past dozen years: after being owned by Marathon Oil, a predecessor to Marathon Petroleum Co., from 1997 and 2010, the refinery was sold to Northern Tier Energy; resold to Western Refining five years later; taken over by Tesoro 

in 2017; and ultimately reacquired by Marathon in late 2018 when Marathon merged with Tesoro. 

That kind of frequent management turnover can pose challenges, and workers with experience at both refineries—Flint Hills and Marathon—have cited vast differences in the facilities’ operations and safety cultures, which one worker described as "worlds apart." 

But unions that represent skilled trades decided that problems at the St. Paul Park refinery had become too severe to ignore after Marathon took control in 2018 and the company began implementing what appeared to be an aggressive cost-cutting program, including the removal and replacement of local contractors and skilled trades workforce that began in late 2019.