Exxon Set to Lock Out Union Employees at Texas Oil Refinery
(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. is poised to lock out union workers at its Beaumont refinery in Texas at 10am Saturday with the oil giant and the United Steelworkers failing to reach an agreement on a new labor contract by late Friday.
The oil giant rejected union counteroffers to its contract proposal made earlier this month. The union continues to work on alternative proposals and wants to keep bargaining and its members working while negotiations continue, a person familiar with the discussions said Friday. In the event of a lockout, the union will picket Exxon with signs declaring the lockout is illegal rather than call a strike.
During a lockout, companies typically bring in temporary workers to operate facilities. Exxon has already advertised for workers to replace union members starting Saturday.
“Our lockout decision is a result of the Union not accepting the company’s contract proposals and the risk of a strike,” plant manager Rozena Dendy said on Exxon’s website Friday afternoon. “It is vital to the safety of our community that we control this timeline to allow our qualified and highly skilled team to assume safe control of our operations.”
United Steelworkers Local 13-243’s six-year work agreement with Exxon expired Feb. 1 without a new collective bargaining agreement in place for the Beaumont refinery and blending and packaging plant. The union contends Exxon’s offer would enact major changes in the existing contract that impact members’ safety, security and seniority.
Exxon told union representatives Thursday that the union’s latest offer “still includes items that significantly increase costs to the company and that we have consistently expressed cannot be accepted over the last 108 days of bargaining. To be clear, a ratified contract would still avoid any work stoppage.”
The USW and Exxon provided 75-day notices to each other Feb. 15 as required before a lockout or a strike. Exxon has already rejected the union’s offer of a one-year extension and said it would lock out workers if they didn’t agree to the company’s current proposal.
Exxon Beaumont union workers have never been locked out. The facility was also not included in a 2015 strike called by the International Union for 12 U.S. refineries and three other plants.
The Beaumont refinery can process 359,000 barrels a day of crude.
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