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PHILADELPHIA -- Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell called on Sunoco Inc. to rescind the 750 layoffs the oil company announced last week, according to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"They should rescind it ... Now is not the time" to lay off, the governor said at a news conference at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue, blocks from Sunoco's corporate headquarters.
Earlier this month, Sunoco officials said 20 percent of the salaried workforce across the board would be laid off. However, Rendell noted the oil firm made $776 million last year.
"In fact, although 2008 earnings were below expectations in the first two quarters, earnings in the last two quarters of 2008 were robust, to say the least," he said.
The company said the layoffs were part of a bigger effort to remain competitive during a downturn in its oil-refining and chemical-manufacturing businesses, the report stated.
Besides its headquarters in Philadelphia, Sunoco has three refineries in the region. And the bulk of the layoffs are to occur here, Sunoco's chairwoman and chief executive officer, Lynn Elsenhans, said at the time of the announcement according to the newspaper.
Rendell acknowledged he had to make his own trims in state government, but only "when necessary."
Sunoco spokesman Thomas Golembeski said: "This decision was not made lightly," but the decision would not be reversed because the company needed to remain profitable and competitive. "I'm surprised the governor didn't reach out to us before he went to the press. He had been informed," he said.
The governor criticized Sunoco while defending his own recent hiring of a media consultant to help him with publicity, explaining it was necessary to get the word out about the state's stimulus package, the report stated.
The governor called this a "necessary move" compared with Sunoco's, which he said was "elective surgery."
"Sunoco has healthy, or what many could consider huge, profits," Rendell said.