Bonuses for PES refinery executives paid right after South Philly fire spark outrage

Mark Abrams
September 11, 2019 - 7:43 pm
Refinery fire

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The union representing workers furloughed after Philadelphia Energy Solutions decided to shut down after a June fire is expressing outrage over millions of dollars in bonuses paid to executives just before the company filed for bankruptcy.

The more than $4 million in bonuses paid to key executives were disclosed in legal documents filed recently in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

United Steelworkers Local 10-1's Ryan O'Callaghan says the behavior of Philadelphia Energy Solutions — the plant owner and operator —  is outrageous. 

"It really is disgusting that on the day we had a fire in the refinery and everybody in the refinery - all the workers were working to put the refinery in a safe standing, shut down safely, that some executives were getting bonuses that some other executives thought to give another executive a bonus. And, that while they were preparing for bankruptcy, they stuffed their pockets with money."

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The court filing showed the largest retention bonus amounting to more than $1.5 million was paid to the company's chief executive officer Mark Smith, who has been on the job less than a year.

O'Callaghan says more than 500 union workers were let go without severance and health benefits after the fire and that the union had to fight to get some $2 million in a transition fund set up by the company that he says translates into about a week and a half of salary for each worker.  

O'Callaghan says the Steelworkers international union is aware of the bonus payments and may step in at some point in the bankruptcy process.