With demand for gasoline plunging and global oil markets in turmoil, more than 1,000 electricians, pipefitters and other skilled workers have been let go from projects at Bay Area refineries.
The workers have been sent home as the refinery operators halt or slow down activity at their facilities due to fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
Bill Whitney, CEO of the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council, said the slowdown’s impact has been immediate.
“There will be men and women of the building trades in Contra Costa that will be on the bench,” he said. “You don't get paid unless you work, so they'll not be receiving a paycheck.”
The refineries hire skilled workers on contract for both major maintenance and capital improvement projects, many of which are now on hold. Oil companies might hire several hundred workers for turnaround projects, where they take a major piece of equipment offline to clean and repair it. Much of that work has been put delayed for now, Whitney said.