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Refinery workers vote to strike if no contract deal reached

ST. PAUL PARK, Minn. -- St. Paul Park oil refinery workers say they will strike at the end of the year if they don’t settle on a new contract with refinery owner Northern Tier Energy.

The 190-member Teamsters Local 120 union voted Monday to strike when the current two-year contract expires Dec. 31. The union says Northern Tier Energy has proposed to cut wages for some workers, eliminate jobs for others and make vacation and overtime changes, among other modifications.

“The company is asking for huge concessions and all our guys want to do is keep working,” said Chris Riley, the union’s business agent and a former refinery employee.

A Northern Tier Energy spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Riley said that beginning Friday, union and company negotiators are scheduled to meet every day through the end of the year, except for weekends and Christmas.

The vote comes about a month after Texas-based Western Refining purchased a controlling share of Northern Tier Energy for $775 million.

The refinery produces gasoline and diesel fuel and other petroleum-based fuels and products. Northern Tier Energy also owns SuperAmerica gas stations and the SuperMom’s bakery line.