Answering Your Questions – Updated July 7, 2021
As we continue negotiations with the United Steelworkers (USW), it is important to us that you have accurate and reliable information on our bargaining and related activities, including the details behind the ongoing work stoppage at our Refinery and Lubricant Blending and Packaging Plant.
The following information page contains answers to common questions we are receiving from our community members. We also invite you to follow ExxonMobil Beaumont on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn to see the latest updates from our local leadership.
Why did ExxonMobil lockout USW-represented employees on May 1?
- ExxonMobil has been actively engaged in good-faith negotiations with the USW for a new contract since January. After the previous agreement expired in February, the USW issued a 75-day strike notice, which we followed with a 75-day lockout notice.
- As a result of their 75-day strike notice, the USW received the ability to strike with only 24 hours’ notice beginning May 1. Handing over operations with such short notice could create significant risk to the site. The USW’s strike notice, continued rejection of our offers, and decision not to hold a membership vote created a real risk of a strike.
- In order to limit any risk and secure the safety of our people and operations, ExxonMobil locked out USW-represented employees with a supplemental eight days of notice and preparation time. It is vital to the safety of our community that we control this timeline to allow our qualified and highly-skilled team to assume safe control of our operations.
What is the status of the negotiations?
- As of the last update of this page, ExxonMobil continues to meet regularly to bargain in good faith with the USW representatives.
- The negotiation teams from each party will jointly determine ongoing meetings.
Can I read the contract offers or read the agreement terms?
- We do not publicly comment on the details of our discussions or share information on the terms of our negotiations. However, we can share that at this time ExxonMobil and the USW remain far apart on many important items.
- The provisions ExxonMobil is seeking are not new or unique within ExxonMobil or the industry. However, many provisions sought by the USW are not part of other existing contracts ExxonMobil has with the USW.
- Many questions regarding offers have been addressed for our employees through information bulletins posted at embeaumont.com. Community members interested also have access to review that information.
Will there be an impact to ExxonMobil products due to the work stoppage?
- There are no anticipated supply impacts as a result of this work stoppage and we expect to be able to meet all contractual commitments. Since the transition, we continue to operate safely and reliably to produce the quality products our customers rely on every day.
- Additionally, the lockout has no impact to operations at our Beaumont Chemical Plant, Polyethylene Plant or the refinery expansion project.
Since employees are locked out, how is the refinery running safely?
- Nothing is more important to ExxonMobil than the safety and health of our employees, our contractors, and the people who live and work near our operations.
- As a result of the USW’s strike vote in December, ExxonMobil has spent months preparing to run both our Refinery and Lubricant Blending and Packaging Plant operations safely in the absence of a USW-represented workforce in the event we were unable to reach an agreement.
- This preparation included extensive training, to ensure full qualifications for all EMCO roles, employees filling these roles have completed more than 100,000 hours worth of training.
- Prior to transitioning, we ensured our facilities and personnel were able to successfully maintain the stability of the units through the handover. Workforce capabilities were developed in basic operator, unit-specific, safety and emergency response training prior to transition. These positions have been staffed by well-qualified personnel from within the facility who have previously held these positions and/or have been closely involved with day-to-day operations prior to becoming qualified to execute them.
- Consistent with the lockout on May 1, we completed a safe and successful transition to ensure the stability of the refinery operating units.
- Our neighbors can expect the same dedication to safety they have come to expect from ExxonMobil. As always, we have a fully trained and staffed emergency response group. We are also working with the local authorities to ensure the safety of our employees and our neighbors, and to safeguard our site and the public.
Are the provisions being discussed with the USW related to safety issues?
- Our stalemate with the USW is not related to safety concerns or lack of employee access to appropriate training or safeguards.
- Consistent with our bargaining priorities as communicated to the USW on day one, ExxonMobil is seeking an agreement which continues to build the safety of our workforce, the reliability of our operations, and the profitability of our site.
- ExxonMobil considers all of our employees, both represented and non-represented, to be key stakeholders in our safety programs and our performance. They help ensure that our facilities are operated safely and efficiently, partly due to guidance provided by ExxonMobil’s Operations Integrity Management System.
Are the provisions being discussed with the USW related to job titles, classifications, or seniority?
- One of ExxonMobil’s proposals includes the elimination of job bidding based on seniority, which currently accounts for 25% of position moves within the bargaining unit.
- As part of this proposal, ExxonMobil has proposed a work process for employees to express their interest in transferring into vacancies across the Refinery and Lubricant Blending and Packaging Plant; however, this proposal does not contemplate seniority as a determining factor in employee selection.
- This change would bring Beaumont up to the standardized best practices already in place in our other refineries, Baytown and Baton Rouge, where employees are afforded opportunity basis on merit (i.e. job performance) and business needs as opposed to seniority exclusively.
- Another of ExxonMobil’s proposals includes the reclassification of Process ‘A’ Operator and Assistant Operator posts into Process Operator Posts.
- This proposal provides ExxonMobil additional flexibility when making training assignments to better ensure more people are qualified in their operating areas. Additional employees cross-qualified across all posts within their line of progression will lead to higher competency within the unit as well as safer, more reliable operations.
- To be clear, ExxonMobil currently has no plans for any post (i.e. workforce) reductions in the Process Department. The Refinery currently has 23 A-Operator posts and 36 Assistant Operator posts. Though many of those employees in Assistant Operator positions are already qualified to fill an A Operator post. After the implementation of this change, we would have 59 Process Operator posts.
Are the provisions being discussed with the USW related to pay?
- ExxonMobil’s represented employees are paid competitively within our industry, and receive a full benefits package.
- Our stalemate with the USW is not related to competitive compensation.
Looking for additional information or have a question not answered above?
Employees, their family members, and members of the community who wish to submit inquiries related to the ongoing work stoppage may submit those by completing our EMCO Resource Center inquiry submission form. All inquiries submitted will be reviewed by an ExxonMobil team member. After submission, you may be contacted in relation to resolution of your inquiry.