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Union seeks federal mediator's help in Exxon refinery lockout -sources

2 minute read

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/File Photo

HOUSTON, May 5 (Reuters) - The United Steelworkers union has requested that a federal mediator help resolve a 5-day-old lockout of about 650 workers at an Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) oil refinery, said people familiar with the matter.

The oil company on Saturday barred USW Local 13-243 members from its Beaumont, Texas, plant, citing the union's refusal to call for a vote on a contract proposal. Exxon also feared the workers might strike, officials have said. read more

Both sides in a labor dispute must agree to mediation. The USW has asked the Federal and Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to become involved, the people said. Exxon has not.

"An invitation from both parties is required for us to assist," said Greg Raelson, a spokesman for the federal agency.

"At this time, FMCS is not involved," he said, but is monitoring developments and is "prepared to help if called upon."

Exxon spokeswoman Julie King declined to comment.

Exxon brought in managers from other facilities and hired temporary workers as replacements to keep the oil refinery and lubrications blending and packaging facility running.

The Steelworkers union has called the lockout an unfair labor practice and filed charges against the company with the National Labor Relations Board.

The Beaumont complex, Exxon's third largest in the United States, can process up to 366,000 barrels of crude oil per day and generate 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline a year. The facility is a major producer of Mobil 1 motor oil.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Peter Cooney

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