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REFINERY NEWS: ExxonMobil issues Beaumont union workers notice of May 1 lockout

New York — Refinery: Beaumont, TX

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Capacity: 369,024 b/d

Owner: ExxonMobil

Unit affected: N/A

Unit capacity: N/A

Duration: Beginning May 1

Notes: ExxonMobil has rejected a proposal from union workers at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery to extend the three-year contract by an additional year in order to come to terms acceptable to both parties, according to a statement from the United Steelworkers released April 26.

Collective bargaining between the union and ExxonMobil has been underway since Jan. 11, with the union calling the negotiations "very contentious because the company seeks major changes in the existing contract that impact members' safety, security and seniority."

The union's proposal to extend the contract for another year was rejected on April 23 by ExxonMobil, the union statement said, and the company then provided a written update to its Feb. 15 75-day lockout clause as mandated by the current contract that it intended to lock out workers May 1 unless the union accepts the company's current proposal.

The lockout will affect more than 650 workers at both the refinery and the blending and packaging plant.

"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 communities," he said.

According to a union source familiar with the negotiations, there was a meeting April 26 to discuss the transfer of the workforce from the union to management, and no further meetings had been scheduled yet.

An ExxonMobil spokeswoman late April 26 said the company tried to reach an agreement with the USW.

"ExxonMobil has been actively engaged in good faith negotiations with the United Steelworkers and has made extensive efforts to reach an agreement," said Julie King, operations manager for public and government affairs.

"The union committee has not allowed employees to vote on our offer. To ensure our facilities continue to operate safely, ExxonMobil has communicated its intent for a lockout of the United Steelworkers represented workforce effective May 1," she said, adding that the company hopes this situation will be resolved promptly.

"We will continue to operate to ensure a safe and reliable supply of quality products to our customers," she said.

Sources: United Steelworkers, ExxonMobil spokeswoman