Texas refinery workers fight lockout by ExxonMobil

By Alyson Kennedy
May 17, 2021

DALLAS — More than 650 members of United Steelworkers Local 13-243 were locked out May 1 by ExxonMobil bosses at their refinery in Beaumont, Texas. Negotiations had begun in January for a new contract, but company officials walked workers out of the plant two by two after rejecting a union proposal to extend the six-year agreement ratified in 2015 for another year to facilitate negotiations.

“The company is attacking job security, safety and seniority,” USW staff representative Richard Landry told the Militant. “One of our long-standing safety protections is having lead operators on the units who direct workers when we have weather problems. The company proposes to do away with them.”

Over the past year, the unionists have had to deal with working in ice storms, floods, a blackout and hurricanes.

The union said Exxon has refused to budge from its demand for major contract changes.

After being escorted out of the refinery, workers set up pickets around the plant.

The company said they plan to continue operating. Before the lockout, they had begun advertising for 40 temporary experienced process operators. The Beaumont refinery processes 366,000 barrels of crude oil per day, 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline annually, and manufactures and packages Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil.

The union reports that refinery workers in Texas, California, Louisiana, Montana and New Jersey are organizing to send supplies and aid to the locked-out workers.

Donations and letters of support can be sent to USW Local 13-243, at 2490 South 11th St., Beaumont, Texas 77701. Tel.: (409) 842-3952.