Exxon makes new contract offer to locked-out Texas refinery workers

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United Steelworkers (USW) union members picket outside Exxon Mobil's oil refinery amid a contract dispute in Beaumont, Texas, U.S., May 1, 2021. Exxon locked out the plant's about 650 union-represented employees citing fears of a strike. REUTERS/Erwin Seba

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HOUSTON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) said on Friday it made a new contract offer to union workers at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery who have been locked out since May.

The new offer follows meetings this week aiming to bring back more than 600 refinery workers represented by the United Steelworkers union (USW) to a plant that produces motor fuels and Mobil 1 motor oil. Production has continued using managers and temporary workers.

Top officials of the union representing Exxon workers will meet on Monday to consider calling a vote on the proposal, USW International Representative Bryan Gross told Reuters.

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A vote by Local 13-243 workers could be held within two weeks after Monday's meeting, Gross said.

Exxon said the new proposal adds a new holiday, updates language regarding a union committee and adds a job description for operators in the lubrication oil plant.

Locked-out employees in October had rejected an earlier Exxon contract offer.

Exxon has said it began the lockout to avoid disruption from a threatened strike at the 369,024 barrel-per-day refinery and lubrication oil plant.

The two sides were unable to reach an agreement before the lockout because the company insisted on removal of job seniority provisions, union officials have said. Those provisions provide workers a say in job assignments.

Exxon in the past said it wanted a contract that would give it the flexibility to operate in low-margin environments. It has offered to end the lockout when workers ratified its offer or the union was removed from the refinery.

A vote on the union's removal was conducted by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in November and December. But the ballots were impounded on Dec. 29 by the board so it could review charges filed by the USW alleging Exxon undertook the lockout to force the union's removal. read more

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Reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston Editing by Leslie Adler, Matthew Lewis and Grant McCool

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