BEAUMONT, Texas — ExxonMobil is denying claims surrounding the petition filed with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to decertify the United Steelworkers Union as the representative of employees.
The energy giant released a statement Thursday night clarifying what would happen if the USW voted to decertify.
"As we have repeatedly said, we look forward to returning employees to work as soon as we agree on a new contract with the Union. If the Union is decertified, we will also welcome back every single employee."
The company said it supports employees’ right to choose whether they wish to be represented by the USW. Its representatives will work with the NLRB to protect employees' right to vote in a secret ballot election, the statement says.
"The vote may be in person or by mail ballot. Either way, your vote will be 100% secret. Nobody will know how you vote unless you tell them."
A Facebook user identified only as "Decertify Bmrf" posted Monday in a Facebook group called "Decertify BMRF 2021" that they had enough signatures and had filed a petition for the election with the NLRB.
United Steelworkers Local 13-243 representative Bryan Gross said the union had issues with how the signatures were collected, saying some may have been collected before the lockout started. He also said these locked-out ExxonMobil workers who have signed the petition don't feel like the union has done enough in contract negotiations with the company.
But, this new decertification petition might get in the way of their goal, according to Gross.
"It just adds some burden on the process because now instead of, you know, trying to concentrate and really work through this proposal, now everybody's focused on this de-cert," Gross said.
The NLRB will have to determine if the petition is "legal" and it could take some time according to Gross. He said he doesn't expect a vote anytime soon pointing out that a similar request in Baytown did not result in a vote until five or six months later.
Contract negotiations started on January 11, 2021. On April 23, ExxonMobil gave written notice of their intentions to lock out workers starting May 1, unless the union accepted a proposal that included major changes impacting members' safety, security and seniority.
The union's 650 members and ExxonMobil were unable to reach an agreement, and the lockout was initiated on May 1. The company and the union last met just over a week ago on September 27, 2021, in what was their 50th meeting.
Full news release from ExxonMobil 10/7/2021
On October 5, one of your co-workers filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking to decertify the Steelworkers Union as the representative of employees in the Refinery and Blending & Packaging Plant. At least 30 percent of your co-workers submitted signatures in support of this petition. The NLRB is very committed to your privacy and will not share this document with the Company or the Union.
The Company supports employees’ right to choose whether they wish to be represented by the USW. Most of us were not born when the union first started in Beaumont during the 1940s. The world is a different place. It’s time for you to have a say. In fact, 94% of private US workers do not have a union. There are many good reasons for this.
In the coming days, we will work with the NLRB to protect your right to vote in a secret ballot election. We expect the Union will try to block or delay this vote. In fact, the union has said as much in the press. We are confident their efforts will fail, and your voice will be heard. The vote may be in person or by mail ballot. Either way, your vote will be 100% secret. Nobody will know how you vote unless you tell them.
Unfortunately, there has already been much misinformation about our negotiations and this election. One rumor in the news is that ExxonMobil will not bring back employees if the USW is decertified. This claim is untrue. As we have repeatedly said, we look forward to returning employees to work as soon as we agree on a new contract with the Union. If the Union is decertified, we will also welcome back every single employee.
We look forward to continuing to give the facts, particularly as the USW continues its campaign of misinformation and voter suppression.
As always, please let us know if you have any questions. You can find more information at www.embeaumont.com.