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At Phillips 66 sites, a prevailing sentiment: ‘We still have a job to do’

Tyson Bagley gets ready at about 4 a.m. each morning, tells his dog he will be back later and heads into the Phillips 66 San Francisco Refinery — just like any other day.

Except now, temperature checks and social distancing are standard procedures at the gate, and Bagley and his colleagues all stand 6 feet apart as they adhere to health measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s not just for a paycheck,” said Bagley, who is a Union Health and Safety Representative at the San Francisco Refinery. “It’s important for me to be out here alongside my colleagues, walking the walk.”

The Department of Homeland Security has deemed refineries part of a critical-infrastructure industry that has to keep running through the crisis. So while nearly all of the cities and states where Phillips 66 operates have a stay-at-home order in place, Bagley is one of thousands of employees who are still working on-site at the company’s facilities.

All of the company’s sites have beefed-up hygiene efforts, adding hand-washing stations, with some refineries, including Sweeny, San Francisco and Wood River, even making their own disinfectant cleaners and hand sanitizer.

The pandemic has also emphasized how vital cross-training is. With on-site employees needing to miss work to attend to pressing personal matters — to take care of their children or elderly relatives, for instance — it’s all the more critical to have someone who can step in to fill the void.

“We’re going to get through this, together,” said Bagley.

San Francisco Refinery Operator and United Steel Workers, Local 326 President Mike Miller, a colleague of Bagley, is also classified as essential personnel and goes into the refinery each day. Miller said that while there’s certainly tension at this time of uncertainty, he and his colleagues feel a sense of obligation to keep working.

"At the end of the day, we still have a job to do,” said Miller. “We still have families to feed and we have an obligation to keep operating for our communities.”