HOUSTON—Exxon Mobil Corp. on Wednesday offered its first concession in a new contract proposal to locked-out workers at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery and lube oil plant to include some seniority protection.
Exxon on May 1 locked some 650 workers out at the 369,000-barrel-per-day refinery, replacing them with temporary workers and saying the company was afraid a strike might lead to disruptions to production.
“The amended offer, which comes after months of good-faith bargaining meetings, provides further support to our represented employees’ concerns about security and seniority,” spokesperson Julie King said in an email.
The leaders of United Steelworkers union (USW) local 13-243, which represents the locked-out workers, said Exxon’s new offer fell short.
“Although these changes are recognized as movement by the company, the overall 40-page comprehensive offer still leaves much to be desired,” the leaders said in a statement issued Wednesday night.
Exxon has not withdrawn proposals that would eliminate lead operator positions, give it the right to right to move operators among different units regardless of job seniority and to eliminate the practice of workers bidding for jobs that come open, the leaders said.
“These three proposals alone are still a direct attack on the core values of the union’s safety, seniority, and security,” they said.
The new proposal includes seniority protection for job transfers between the lubricants and refinery portions of the complex.
The USW 13-243 leaders said this was not a change, but clarified what Exxon had previously said.
It also includes layoff protection for certain jobs and warehouse operator promotions in lubricants, Exxon said.
The USW leaders said this proposal could result in the elimination of a department and the cutting jobs in another department.
The refinery and lube plant has continued to produce motor fuels and Mobil 1 oil with managers and supervisors.
If the new proposal is ratified before Nov. 1, the workers will receive a $500 bonus, Exxon said.
By Erwin Seba