HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil Corp said on Friday in its reply to a US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaint that the lockout of over 600 workers at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery was lawful, according to a filing with the board.
In a Sept. 30 complaint, the NLRB said Exxon acted in violation of federal law in locking the workers out of their jobs for 10 months between May 2021 and March 2022.
The board recommended the workers receive their back pay and costs for the time they were locked out of the refinery.
In the reply, Exxon said it “acted in good faith and has not violated any provision of the National Labor Relations Act.”
The NLRB in the September complaint alleged Exxon undertook the lockout to remove United Steelworkers union (USW) local 13-243 from representing the workers at the 369,024 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery.
The lockout began as the union and Exxon were deadlocked in talks over a new six-year contract. Exxon said the lockout would assure operations continued uninterrupted if the union began a strike, as it had notified the company it might do.
The lockout ended after union members accepted Exxon’s contract proposal.
In the September complaint, the NLRB alleged Exxon unilaterally changed the terms of the contract and working conditions for refinery employees.
The company “did not make any material changes to bargaining unit employees’ terms and conditions of employment,” Exxon said on Friday.
The NLRB alleged Exxon provided more than the “ministerial aid” to union members who led a decertification campaign to remove USW local 13-243 from representing the workers.
The board also alleged the lockout became unlawful when Exxon said in messages to the refinery workers that they would be allowed to return to work if they removed the union.
Exxon’s “alleged conduct with respect to its employee communications, even if true, is lawful under extant board law,” the company said.
An administrative law judge will hear the complaint and Exxon’s defense in 2023. (Reporting by Erwin Seba Editing by Chris Reese)