ExxonMobil Locks Out Texas Workers
650 workers were replaced by scabs at the Beaumont plant
On the morning of Saturday, May 1st, union workers at the Beaumont, Texas Exxon Mobil plant were locked out. The company had set a 10 AM deadline for the union to accept a new contract that included major changes that the union said would impact members’ safety, security, and seniority.
The company began removing workers as early as Friday night as scab workers came in to begin taking the union members' jobs. More than 650 United Steelworker members are employed at the plant. According to Local 13-243, bargaining began with the company on a new contract on January 11th. The original contract ran out on February 1st, but both sides stayed at the table to continue working on the contract, instead of going on strike. Negotiations failed to progress, and the company issued a notice of their intent to lock out the workers on April 23rd. In the notice, they said the lockout would begin on May 1 unless the union accepted the company’s proposal.
Even as management was escorting people off the premise early, the union says they were trying to work with the company, even submitting a last-ditch proposal to avoid a lockout. However, the company refused to budge off of their regressive contract demands. Some of these demands include wage splitting, freezing pay rates, changes to the A operator classification, declinations removals, and increasing the number of days for strike notices.
"It's deeply disappointing that ExxonMobil would take such a drastic step and keep its dedicated workforce off the job when our only goal throughout this whole process has been to bargain a fair agreement," said USW Local 13-243 President Darrell Kyle. "Over the past year, the company was perfectly willing to tell us we were essential as we performed our jobs through the Covid-19 pandemic, hurricanes, floods, and most recently an unprecedented freeze. Now, it's rewarding our hard work and sacrifice by forcing us off our jobs."