© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Exxon Gas Station Seen in Houston, Texas, USA, April 30, 2019. REUTERS / Loren Elliott / File Photo
By Erwin Seba
HOUSTON (Reuters) – The United Steel Workers’ Union (USW) on Thursday amended its draft agreement to Exxon Mobile Corp. (NYSE 🙂 in an attempt to end an eight-month lockout of about 600 workers at a Beaumont refinery in Texas, a union official said.
The parties held their first negotiating session since late October and met for about an hour on Thursday morning, said Bryan Gross, the USW international representative.
“We have made several modifications around holiday payments and several other items to align with other Exxon Mobil contracts at the Baytown (Texas) and Baton Rouge (Louisiana) refineries,” Gross said. He said the changes to the proposal were not concessions.
An Exxon spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
The two sides are awaiting the results of a decertification vote under the auspices of the U.S. National Labor Relations Committee (NLRB) on whether to remove the union from the factory.
The company said it would end the lockout when an agreement is reached or when the union is removed by decertification.
Exxon continued to operate the 369,000 bpd refinery and oil blending plant using supervisors, managers and temporary operators. The plant produces gasoline and motor oil Mobil 1.
On Dec. 29, the NLRB said it had revoked ballots in the decertification vote while investigating union complaints of unfair work practices against Exxon. The results may not be known for several weeks, an NLRB spokeswoman said.
The federal board is considering the union’s allegations that the months-long blockade was aimed at breaking up the union in the factory and that Exxon improperly aided the campaign to remove the union. Exxon denied the allegations.
USW 13-243 officials said Exxon’s offer would eliminate job security for many of its members, while the company says the agreement is necessary for profitable operations in low-margin environments.
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