BEAUMONT, Texas — More than half the number of union workers rejected ExxonMobil's latest proposal Tuesday after six months of negotiating, according to United Steelworkers Local 13-243 representative Bryan Gross.
The union workers have been locked out of the downtown Beaumont facility since May 1, 2021, amid renegotiations.
The local United Steelworkers union needed 50 percent of "yes" votes plus one vote for an overall "yes" vote in favor of the latest proposal. Since that didn’t happen, the lock-out will continue.
More than 400 union members voted in total. The union has not released how many people voted for or against the proposal.
The union started the renegotiation process with about 650 members, but some workers left amid the lockout to find other jobs. As of Tuesday, 583 workers are still members of the union.
Only members who pay dues were allowed to vote Tuesday, according to the union. There are only about 500 paying union members. About 100 members didn't show up Tuesday to vote.
United Steelworkers officials asked members to stand together and vote "no." Members were able to vote Tuesday at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 6 p.m. Each session covered the same information.
The union said Exxon is the most profitable oil company in the world and can still compete with other companies while maintaining long-standing contracts with union members.
A petition to decertify from the union received enough signatures to request a decertification vote from the National Labor Relations Board, Gross told 12News on Oct. 6.
Union members can request an election to vote out or "decertify" their union or replace it with another union according to the NLRB's website.
At least 30% of the union members, must sign a card or petition requesting the decertification election be held by the NLRB.
If the election is held and the majority of the votes cast are not in favor of union representation then the union will be "decertified" according to the NLRB.
Workers could be seen picketing outside the facility Monday.
ExxonMobil officials released a statement Monday asking union members to vote to ratify despite, “outstanding rumors and misinformation about the Company’s current offer," from the United Steelworkers Union.
Almost 200 people showed up at the union's first meeting Tuesday morning to make their voices heard.
Rows of cars belonging to union members filled the parking lot outside of the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Headquarters.
The message coming from union leadership to the locked-out workers is "vote no," but it's not an easy decision for many of these workers.
They've been out of work for six months without a paycheck, and the bills are piling up.
"We haven’t been getting our paychecks. So, everybody's families are experiencing a hard time right now. And we're just doing our best to maintain," union member David Prejean said.
Prejean said even though his family is struggling, he still plans to vote 'no.' He said ExxonMobil’s proposal just isn't good enough.
"Exxon so far hasn't provided it," Prejean said. "So, we're here to continue to fight and do what's necessary to try to get things back to something that's that,
that we can respect as a contract."
But not everyone feels the same.
One union member, who wished to remain anonymous, said he’s voting “yes” because he's concerned if Exxon has survived this long without the union workers, does ExxonMobil really need them on the job?
For the last six months, United Steelworkers leaned on prayer, a food pantry, and the picket line. Tuesday is decision day, and some are hoping to soon walk back in the doors of ExxonMobil while others want to keep fighting.
On January 11, contract talks began between the union and ExxonMobil.
The two parties didn't get anywhere between then and the notice of a lockout was given on April 23.
On May 1, more than 600 union workers were officially locked out of the downtown Beaumont facility.
Some family members. And they say they’re in a tough spot. They want their loved ones to go back to work and they want their insurance back. But they are torn they also want a fair contract.
Among job security and safety in the workplace, union members explained they want seniority prioritized. However, Exxon said their deal puts more of an emphasis on qualification over seniority, a practice in place and ratified at other facilities.
Company officials explained in a 12News file story that there will be minimal changes to daily seniority provision, and the changes that will be made are expected to improve job protections for employees based on where they work.
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