U.S. board of directors seizes ballots in union-busting vote at Exxon refinery

HOUSTON, Dec.29 (Reuters) – The United States National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday blocked ballots that will decide whether the United Steelworkers (USW) continues to represent workers at an Exxon Mobil oil refinery (XOM .N) in Southeast Texas.

The NLRB said it placed the ballots in receivership while it investigated unfair labor practices complaints filed by the union representing workers at the Exxon complex in Beaumont, Texas. breaking up the union and that Exxon improperly aided a campaign to suppress the union.

It may be several weeks “before we have the results or know what the next steps are,” NLRB spokeswoman Kayla Blado told Reuters.

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Exxon expects the allegations to be dismissed once the investigation is completed, company spokeswoman Julie King said. “Exxon Mobil remains confident that it has acted within the law at all times.”

The union charges “not only blocked the voices of our employees from being heard, but also denied them the ability to end the lockout,” she said.

Steelworker international representative Bryan Gross said the union had provided the NLRB with information and affidavits to support its position. “We hope this will let the company know it needs to get back to the bargaining table,” Gross said.

Exxon locked union members at the 2,700-acre refinery and lube oil conditioning plant on May 1. The facility produces Mobil 1 fuels and motor oil and continued to operate with managers and replacement workers.

The eight-month lockout will end if workers represented by the unions sign a petition to remove Local 13-243 from the Steelworkers or accept the company’s latest contract offer, Exxon said. Union members rejected the contract offer in October. Read more

The refinery continued to operate with managers and supervisors from across the country at its helm. Exxon said the 369,024 barrel per day (bpd) refinery was operating at maximum capacity.

Eviction from the union would require a 50% share plus one of the votes cast.

Exxon offered a contract on terms that would allow the plant to compete in low-margin environments. The union said it wanted to retain provisions that give workers a say in work assignments.

Negotiators have agreed on parts of a potential contract, including a six-year term and salary increases that would match those set by national Steelworkers contract talks that begin in January.

Workers were locked out in Beaumont due to a strike notice issued by Local 13-243 that could not allow for safe and continuous operations, Exxon said.

The union said Exxon was preparing to lock out workers ahead of strike notice, highlighting portable housing for replacement workers set up inside the Beaumont complex in the weeks leading up to the lockout. . Read more

During the lockout, the number of workers at the USW-represented refinery fell from 650 to around 580, as workers took jobs at other refineries or chemical plants in the area, people said. familiar with plant operations.

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Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang

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