ExxonMobil Threatens to Lock Out Steelworkers in Beaumont; Fair Contract Needed

ExxonMobil is preparing to lock out workers at its Beaumont refinery this weekend, our Brothers and Sisters in United Steelworkers Local 13-243 report. 
 
 The union will continue the fight for a fair contract, whether in negotiations or outside negotiations.
 
 The Texas AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters in USW Local 13-243 as they seek to continue bargaining and calls on ExxonMobil to bargain in good faith. That same solidarity, as always, would apply if the company makes the poor decision to lock out workers. 
 
 Brother Hoot Landry of the United Steelworkers relays USW Local 13-243’s statement calling for a one-year extension of the current contract to facilitate continued bargaining:
 
USW Local 13-243 Braces for Lockout at Beaumont Refinery, Blending and Packaging
ExxonMobil Rejects Union Offer of One-Year Extension 
 
(Beaumont, Texas) – Members of USW Local 13-243 today urged ExxonMobil to continue bargaining rather than making good on its April 23 notice to lock out more than 650 workers in its Beaumont, Texas refinery and blending and packaging plant starting May 1.
 
The local’s bargaining committee has been negotiating with ExxonMobil over the terms for a new collective bargaining agreement since Jan. 11, 2021. Negotiations between the parties have been very contentious because the company seeks major changes in the existing contract that impact members’ safety, security and seniority. 
 
“These negotiations are not about wages,” said Darrell Kyle, president of USW Local 13-243. “Our greatest concern is making sure our lives and our jobs are safe and secure. Safety in our workplaces also protects our families and community.”  
 
The existing contract requires that the union and the company must give each other 75 days advance notice before a strike or a lockout. The USW and ExxonMobil each provided their respective 75-days notices to each other on Feb. 15, 2021.
 
However, providing the 75-days advance notice does not mean there would necessarily be a work stoppage, and the two sides continued to negotiate over the terms for the new collective bargaining agreement.
 
This changed on April 23 when ExxonMobil rejected the USW’s offer to extend the current contract an additional year and provided a written update to its 75-day notice to indicate that it intends to lock out workers on May 1 unless they accept the company’s current proposal. 
 
“A one-year extension would benefit both sides,” Kyle said. “It 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.” 
 
Kyle called on the company to reconsider its plan and instead continue bargaining.
 
“The union is committed to reaching a mutually acceptable, fair and equitable agreement,” Kyle said, “but that agreement should come at the bargaining table, without locking out the dedicated, skilled workers at the Beaumont Refinery and Beaumont Blending and Packaging Plant.” 
 
The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations.