By Greg Johnson
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
RAWLINS —More than 30 workers at the local HF Sinclair oil refinery are out of work and 55 more have been put on notice in what the company calls a realignment “to reflect best practices for operational excellence.”
The company has confirmed that 32 employees at the refinery in Sinclair were laid off this week and 55 others given their pink slips as of September.
The move comes after last year’s acquisition of Sinclair Oil by HollyFrontier and the creation of HF Sinclair.
“As a result of the recent acquisition, we are aligning our facilities,” the company said in a statement to the Rawlins Times. “Through this work, we have made changes to organizational structures across the newly acquired facilities that will allow us to operate more efficiently, while maintaining safety and reliability.”
While the layoffs may have been in the works since the $1.8 billion deal was announced last August and closed earlier this year, they also come at a time when local and national gasoline prices have hit record highs. As a result, industry analysts are predicting record profits for oil companies.
“I can confirm that this week 87 employees were notified that their roles were being eliminated at our Sinclair, Wyoming, facility,” Corinn Smith, the company’s director of corporate communications, said in the statement.
While HF Sinclair didn’t specify if the affected employees have or will receive severance, the company said it’s providing career assistance for them. This includes offering opportunities to fill other jobs across the company.
“To help, all impacted employees have been invited to apply for other open positions at the refinery and across the company, and we’re working with the state of Wyoming to help employees find alternative employment opportunities,” according to the statement.
The Workforce Center does more than just make sure people know how to file for unemployment, said Mary Orr, manager of the agency’s Rawlins office.
Those resources include help with resume writing, interview preparation and funding options for re-education for other professions.
She also said that since the layoffs were announced, members of the Rawlins business community has been reaching out, asking how to help workers and families.
“We’ve had a few calls, for sure,” Orr said. “We’re definitely working with employers in the area.”
The center also is working to organize a local job fair.
“We’ve got a great community in Rawlins and a lot of employers who are happy to try and help people,” Orr said. “We’ve gotten more calls from other employers (so far) than anybody else.”
In response to the news of the layoffs, Gov. Mark Gordon expressed concern for the workers and communities of Sinclair and Rawlins.
“I am troubled to learn of the HollyFrontier Sinclair refinery layoffs,” Gordon said in a statement. “My greatest immediate concern is with the displaced workers and the economic impact on the communities of Rawlins and Sinclair.
“My administration stands by to mobilize resources to assist the workers and their families, as well as the surrounding communities.”
Through her social media channels, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney called the layoffs “devastating news for the affected employees, their families and the communities of Rawlins and Sinclair.”
She also pledged support from her office for Gordon’s efforts to assist the workers and communities “to ensure we do everything possible to assist those affected.”
In its statement, HF Sinclair said that while laying off dozens of workers is difficult, it remains committed to being an important part of the community.
“We care about our employees and understand this is difficult news,” according to the HF Sinclair statement. It has “Employee Assistance Program counselors on site for anyone who needs to talk.
“We remain committed to being a good corporate citizen, continuing local operations and supporting the community as we have in the past.”