Hey, remember this?
ONCE UPON A TIME - when the local founding Pew family was still in control - workers at Sunoco's sprawling Marcus Hook refinery joked about working for "Uncle Sunny," the kind of company in which a generous health plan for early retirees was negotiated with a simple handshake.
But today the dwindling number of time-clock punchers at the region's largest oil refiner say that they're so shell-shocked from the loss of 400 jobs at Sunoco's shuttered South Jersey site, a looming pension freeze and news that workers under 50 now won't be getting that retiree health coverage, they cringe at what might be next.
"Your blood pressure is up from the time you check in until the time you leave," said Dave Miller, president of Local 10-901 of the United Steelworkers, which represents some Marcus Hook workers. His union cohort, Mike McLain, nodded in agreement: He was six months shy of his 50th birthday when Sunoco killed off the future-retiree health benefits for its under-50 workers.
But at least one Sunoco employee did all right by "Uncle Sunny" in 2010: its CEO, Lynn Elsenhans.
Well, it's all over for "Uncle Sunny" in Marcus Hook. Lynn Elsenhans...she's still around:
Sunoco Inc. announced this afternoon that it is indefinitely idling its Marcus Hook refinery, starting immediately.
The Philadelphia-based company had announced in September that it would shut the Marcus Hook refinery if it could not find a buyer.
The company also announced that, although it would continue to operate its Philadelphia refinery, that site would be closed no later than July 2012 if it could not be sold.
Elsenhans earned $11.7 million last year, her reward for her aggressive cost-cutting moves that were carried out heavily on the backs of her blue-collar workers. A long, long time ago in what feels like it was a galaxy far, far away, losing the two Philadelphia-area refineries would be a massive fail; but in 2011, I can guarantee you that Elsenhans will get a healthy raise for this move. Maybe that's the way that capitalism works, but I can tell you that this is making a lot of people uncomfortable. Don't take it from me -- listen to Frank Luntz, the best-known pollster for the GOP:
Luntz said that his polling research found that “The public…still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”
You do have a problem, Frank Luntz.
So does Lynn Elsenhans.
So do all of us.