BEAUMONT, Texas — Beaumont United Steelworkers decided to change where they protest to get the attention and support of the community.
Union members and their supporters took to the streets of Beaumont to urge ExxonMobil to end its lock out which has left more than 650 union members unemployed since May 2021.
The members usually picket outside of the downtown Beaumont ExxonMobil oil refinery. However, Saturday morning the protest was brought to the busy College and Interstate 10 Beaumont intersection.
This change in location was made in an effort to draw more support from the community, organizers said.
“We are elevating our efforts,” Richard Hoot Landry, United Steel Workers staff representative, said. “We are just trying to send the company a message that we are going to go wherever it takes to get our message out. We want the company to end the lockout and put our people back to work.”
Organizers said that with no end in sight, they are hoping that support from the community will make a difference in negotiations. At this time, it is unclear when both sides will meet again to try to come to a resolution.
Since January, USW and ExxonMobil have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. ExxonMobil and the United Steelworkers local 13-243 met again on Tuesday, July 7 hoping to find a compromise to bring 650 union workers back on the job.
The union presented five proposals at this meeting, and every proposal was rejected. Both sides remain far apart.
"We did have one proposal that the company stated we were moving in the right direction. But it was rejected," Landry said.
The local began bargaining a new contract in January. But talks led to little movement on either side, and on April 23, ExxonMobil provided the local with written notice of its intention to lock out members starting May 1.