Business

More than 600 union members set to vote on ExxonMobil’s latest contract Tuesday

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department was requested to be present during Tuesday’s vote, just in case.

BEAUMONT, Texas — More than 600 union workers are scheduled to vote on the latest offer from ExxonMobil Tuesday. 

The union workers have been locked out of the downtown Beaumont facility since May 1, 2021 amid renegotiations. Workers could be seen picketing outside the facility Monday. 

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department was requested to be present during Tuesday’s vote, just in case. 

ExxonMobil officials released a statement Monday asking union members to vote to ratify despite, “outstanding rumors and misinformation about the Company’s current offer,” from the United Steelworkers Union.

Exxon officials have continuously said they are negotiating in good faith with the union and want workers back on the floor as soon as possible.

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USW officials asked members to stand together and vote ‘no.’ Members will be able to vote Tuesday at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 6 p.m. Each session will cover the same information.

“It’s a waiting game, right, it can be nerve-wracking. But, we feel pretty confident we put a lot of information out. We’ve, you know, we’re pushing for a no vote,” Bryan Gross, USW staff representative, said.

The union said Exxon is the most profitable oil company in the world and can still compete with other companies while maintaining long-standing contracts with union members.

It will take 50% of yes votes, plus one vote to ratify the contract. If this happens, the union will notify Exxon and another negotiation process will start.

If the union votes no, the lockout continues. It has been almost five months since the lockout started in May.

When the lockout first began, USW members lent on prayer. Prayer soon turned into a food pantry that members held to get donations to get employees through that week. That week, stretched into five long months.

“I mean, one day you’re working, next day you’re not,” Gross said.

Conversation concerning the heavily debated contracts began January 11, 2021. Union members said changes to safety, security and seniority needed to be addressed.

On April 23, 2021, a lockout was issued. On May 1, 2021, hundreds of union workers were left upset, confused, and locked out of the plant. 

USW union and ExxonMobil representatives met on May 12, 2021 to negotiate a contract, but no deal was made. Then on July 10, USW members protested on the corner of College and Interstate 10 access road. 

Shortly after the College and Interstate 10 protest, ExxonMobil and the USW had their 50th meeting. A little while after this meeting on October 6, 2021, a petition came to decertify the union. 

As of now, Bryan Gross said the offer is no good and believes members will hold the line and continue to fight. 

“I think, I think the majority understand what the fights about, and, and want better offer,” Gross said.

Written by Almiya White (KBMT), Tiana Johnson (KBMT), Kaitlin Griffin

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