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'Secret ballots' sent to United Steelworkers to vote on future of union at ExxonMobil

Union workers will have until Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021 to return the ballots to the National Labor Relations Board.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The fate of the United Steelworkers union at ExxonMobil is at stake as an upcoming key vote will determine whether locked out refinery workers will decertify the union or not.

“Secret ballots” were sent out in the mail to USW workers on Friday, November 12, 2021. They will have until Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021 to return the ballots to the National Labor Relations Board office, according to ExxonMobil.

In correspondence sent to the employees, ExxonMobil emphasized, "No one will know how you vote unless you tell them."

For almost six months, USW members have been lockout of the ExxonMobil Beaumont refinery without pay.

Related: ExxonMobil encouraging United Steelworkers members to vote to decertify union

Company officials are encouraging union members to break from the USW and go back to work. Officials encouraged locked out workers to vote quickly and return ballots as soon as possible, in an Oct. 25 release.

The energy giant said instead of protecting the anonymity of voters, the union tried to intimidate Exxon employees by pursuing a “split room vote," in a previous release. The majority of voters refused this, and the USW had to conduct a secret ballot vote.

Company officials said the USW has refused to allow employees the chance to vote on the company’s offers since January despite many requests.

Union representatives said the power giant has spread misinformation by accusing the union of things like fraud and intimidation. However, Exxon representatives maintain that the company has negotiated in good faith with the union and union members.

Related: 'Individual' claims enough signatures to request election to "vote out" USW union at ExxonMobil

The union was notified that an individual had acquired enough signatures to request a decertification vote from the NLRB in early October of 2021. Union members were allowed to request a vote to decertify their union or replace it with another one.  

Locked out ExxonMobil workers who signed the petition do not feel that the union had done enough regarding contact negotiation, Bryan Gross, United Steelworkers Local 13-243 representative, told 12News.

Related: Extra incentives offered to United Steelworker members through ExxonMobil's latest proposal set to expire Monday

The company’s latest amended offer was proposed in September of 2021, when company and union officials met for the 50th time. While the offer is still on the table, the company said certain incentives no longer apply because the deal was approved by the Nov. 1, 2021 deadline.

Exxon's offer was rejected by union members in a Tuesday, October 19 vote. Union officials stated the offer did not address the seniority and job security promises they want for their members.

The lockout began in May of 2021. 

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