Safety Concerns Paramount
BATON ROUGE, La., April 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite accepting the United Steelworkers (USW) National Oil Bargaining Program (NOBP) pattern agreement at its other facilities, ExxonMobil is refusing to do so at its refinery/chemical complex in Baton Rouge, La.
The USW and the industry reached a pattern agreement in February that included having a process safety representative at each facility. Although ExxonMobil agreed to the pattern at its facilities in Torrance, Calif., Billings, Mont., Beaumont, Texas, and Chalmette, La., the company is not agreeing to a process safety representative position at the Baton Rouge complex. This has prompted USW members to ask why they are being treated like second-class citizens and why ExxonMobil feels it necessary to risk the lives of its employees by not agreeing to the industry pattern concerning health and safety.
"All ExxonMobil management has to do is treat us equally, give us the same NOBP pattern as they have offered to Billings, Beaumont, Torrance and Chalmette," said Local 13-12 President Kenneth Duke. "This is all the company has to do to bring us a contract that we can ratify."
Local 13-12 represents over 1,000 refinery and chemical workers at the Baton Rouge complex. The local union members voted in 2007 to become part of NOBP, and in the 2009 NOBP talks the company met the pattern agreement. Although the three-year contract expired March 31, there is a 75-day contract extension. A series of solidarity activities are planned during this time to help Local 13-12 get a fair contract and obtain the pattern items.
"Pattern bargaining has enabled oil workers to have a decent standard of living for 46 years and put them on an even footing in bargaining with the oil giants," said USW International Vice President Gary Beevers, who heads the union's oil sector. "It also has provided stability for the industry. Having the union involved in health and safety matters with ExxonMobil management in Baton Rouge through the process safety representative position will only strengthen the company's health and safety program."
Both ExxonMobil and Local 13-12 would choose who would be the process safety representative and determine what the person's duties and responsibilities would be. Process safety refers to issues like equipment reliability, inspection and testing of equipment, adequate training, preventative maintenance, including taking action to prevent discharges of volatile materials into the air and ground.
Like other refineries and petrochemical plants across the country, the Baton Rouge complex could use the union's help in dealing with process safety issues. According to the local union, OSHA investigated one area in the facility and found ExxonMobil failed to properly investigate process safety incidents and repair equipment and address inconsistent thickness measurements found in pressure vessel inspections. OSHA's press release on this investigation is located HERE.
"These are the kinds of problems that a full-time process safety representative would help ExxonMobil resolve," Duke said. "Having such a position specified in the contract would commit both parties to work together to improve process safety. It makes sense to do this and it is a win-win for the company and our workers."
Local 13-12 and ExxonMobil continue to negotiate. Future bargaining sessions have not been set.
The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and has 850,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. It represents workers employed in metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, renewable and atomic energy, plus the service sector.
All ExxonMobil management has to do is treat us equally, give us the same NOBP pattern as they have offered to Billings, Beaumont, Torrance and Chalmette! That's all, it's is that simple! This is all the Company has to do to bring us a contract that we can ratify. All ExxonMobil management has to do is treat us equally, give us the same NOBP pattern as they have offered to Billings, Beaumont, Torrance and Chalmette! That's all, it's is that simple! This is all the Company has to do to bring us a contract that we can ratify.
Contact: Lynne Hancock, (615) 828-6169, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)