Exxon says union removal vote to go forward at Texas refinery hit by lockout

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HOUSTON, Oct 12 (Businesshala) – Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) said on Tuesday it would go ahead with a vote to remove the United Steelworkers Union (USW) from representing locked-out workers at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery , regardless of the outcome of a contract ratification, voted on by the same workers next week.

USW Local 13-243 announced Monday night that workers at the Beaumont Refinery and Lubricant Oil Plant will take their first vote on the Exxon contract proposal on October 19, 10 months after they were out of their jobs, and 10 months after talks began.

Since the lockdown, Exxon has kept a 369,024 barrel-per-day refinery that produces Mobil 1 motor oil in operation at low production levels, with managers and supervisors supported by some temporary replacement workers.

The company has repeatedly criticized how long the union took to vote on the contract.

“Notwithstanding the status of a ratification vote or the end of the lockout, the employee-led decertification process will continue in accordance with (US National Labor Relations Board) guidelines,” Exxon said in a statement.

Brian Gross, the USW’s international representative in Beaumont, said the union views the contract vote and the decertification vote, which have yet to be determined by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), as two separate issues.

“We still have to represent the members,” Gross said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “Decertification vote is still months away.”

At least 30% of the 650 workers represented by USW in Beaumont have submitted a petition for decertification for reasons not clear. Sakal said, NLRB is verifying the signatures.

USW filed a complaint with the NLRB in April alleging that Exxon violated federal law by providing decertification material to an employee. NLRB has not ruled yet.

An NLRB spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

“For what the company has to offer, we think it’s subpar,” Gross said. “But that is for the members to decide.”

USW has opposed Exxon’s contract offer because it would eliminate job seniority and remove key operators on the units. In September Exxon revised its proposal to increase job protections for lubricant plant workers.

Reporting by Irwin Seba; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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