COLUMBIA — Teamsters’ Union Local 833 is trying to prevent Columbia-based MFA Oil from shutting down its transport division, which would eliminate 35 Missouri jobs.
The contract between the union and the company ends August 31, said Mark Bruemmer, the union's principal officer. The union is trying to convince the company to renew the contract.
The employees in the transport division are paid about $15 an hour and work 60 to 70 hours a week, said Darrell Martin, business agent for the Teamsters local 833. The union's proposal asked for a yearly raise of 2 to 3 percent, he said.
MFA Oil, which currently employs more than 1,500 people, would use the resources to focus on retail, said Tom May, director of marketing for MFA Oil. Retail businesses owned by the company include Break Time Convenience Stores, Jiffy Lube and PetroCard 24 fueling stations.
“We’ve been trying to negotiate with them, we’re not really getting anywhere,” Martin said. “The negotiation committee is telling me every time they come to the table all they talk about is shutting down the division.”
May said the division has made a profit the past few years. He declined to comment on the status of the negotiations.
The possibility of shutting down a profitable division has confused some of the company's employees.
"I feel like the company is not claiming they are losing money on the division, so I can't understand why would they want to do away with 35 jobs," Bruemmer said.
Martin said he is hopeful, and is counting on "the people" to let MFA Oil know that they support the renewed contract with the union.
“It’s just a sad situation," Martin said. "I think we’ve been blindsided by wanting to go in the wrong direction because this is no time to cut jobs. These people have no place to go."