HOUSTON Reuters - Exxon Mobil Corp managers on Friday began calling workers locked out of the company's Beaumont, Texas, refinery to push for approval of a contract proposal to be voted on early next week, a union official of the Unite Steelworkers USW union said.
In addition to an appeal to ratify the contract offer, which the union has urged workers reject, the managers provided information about a decertification petition that could lead to a vote to remove the USW from representing the workers, said Bryan Gross, representative of the International Union.
The company locked us out six months ago, Gross said. They haven't asked anything about anybody and now they reach out and say, 'Trust us.' An Exxon spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The 650 workers locked out by Exxon on 1 May at 369,024 barrel-per-day BPd refinery and lubricant-oil plant are scheduled to vote Tuesday on the contract offer of 319,000 workers.
The company posted a message on Facebook on Friday that once the offer has been ratified, the company will work with the union to establish a return to work agreement and return USW-represented employees to the site, ending the lockout. The U.S. National Labor Relations Board is reviewing a petition submitted by at least 30% of locked out workers calling for decertification vote. If successful, it would remove USW local union 13 - 243 in Beaumont from representing the workers.
The USW opposes Exxon's contract offer, saying it would eliminate job seniority, which gives workers an important role in job assignments, and create virtually separate agreements for refineries workers and lubricants plant workers.
Exxon said the agreement is necessary to make the refinery competitive even in low-margin environments.