Union leaders at Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Beaumont plant in Texas asked the oil giant to resume contract negotiations and not move forward with its plans for a lockout of more than 650 workers on May 1.
United Steelworkers Local 13-243’s six-year work agreement with Exxon expired Feb. 1 and no new collective bargaining agreement was settled upon for the Beaumont refinery and blending and packaging plant. The union, which offered to extend the current contract an additional year, contends Exxon’s offer would enact major changes in the existing contract that impact members’ safety, security and seniority.
A one-year extension would “allow our members to maintain their job security and safely operate the facility while the two sides continue to bargain for a fair and equitable agreement, without the risk of a work stoppage,” said Darrell Kyle, president of USW Local 13-243.
Exxon said it has made “extensive efforts to reach an agreement” but the union hasn’t allowed employees to vote on its offer, according to a spokesperson. “To ensure our facilities continue to operate safely, Exxon Mobil has communicated its intent for a lockout of the United Steelworkers represented workforce effective May 1.”
The existing contract requires each side give the other 75 days advance notice before a strike or a lockout. The USW and Exxon provided 75-day notices to each other on Feb. 15. On April 23, Exxon rejected the union’s offer of a one-year extension and said it will lock out workers Saturday if they don’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.
(Updates with details on lockout in fifth paragraph and history of Beaumont labor issues in sixth paragraph.)