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Locked-out Texas refinery workers to vote on Exxon contract proposal -union

Workers locked out of their jobs at a Beaumont, Texas, refinery for nearly six months by Exxon Mobil Corp will vote on the company’s latest contract proposal, a United Steelworkers’ union official said on Monday night.

The vote on the contract by 650 workers locked out of the 369,024 barrel-per-day refinery and adjoining lubricant oil plant is scheduled for Oct. 19 and comes after a petition to remove the union was submitted to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

An Exxon spokesperson was not immediately available on Monday night to comment.

Members of United Steelworkers union (USW) local 13-243 in Beaumont were told of the scheduled vote on Monday, said Bryan Gross, USW international representative.

Gross declined to comment further on the decision to schedule the vote.

This will be the first vote on a contract proposal since talks between Exxon and the union began talks in January.

Exxon and union negotiators last met on Friday to discuss the company’s Sept. 29 contract proposal that contained the company’s first concession since the lockout began.

At that time, USW 13-243 leaders said the proposal, while offering increased job protection to lubricant oil plant workers, would eliminate lead operator positions and job seniority, the key issues for the union in rejecting the company’s offers since talks began.

At least 30% of the locked-out workers signed a petition to the NLRB to remove the union in a process called decertification, the union and company said on Oct. 6.

A vote may be scheduled and overseen by the NLRB to remove the union as representative for hourly workers at the Exxon Beaumont refinery, according to the notice from the NLRB. No date for the vote has been set.

Exxon said it began the lockout to avoid possible disruption of Beaumont operations from a possible strike.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Erwin Seba)

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