Negotiations continue for new union contract at Exxon refinery outside Billings, with deadline looming

Posted at 3:30 PM, Feb 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-01 18:24:19-05

BILLINGS- Negotiations continue on a new contract for United Steelworkers employees at the ExxonMobil refinery in Lockwood, with the current contract set to expire at midnight Friday.

Earlier in the day, the Steelworkers reached an agreement with Shell Oil Co. on a “pattern settlement” on wages, benefits and working conditions. This deal included an 11 percent wage increase and set a framework for 30,000 Steelworkers members nationwide, including workers at three Yellowstone County refineries.

A labor official told MTN that workers at the CHS refinery in Laurel narrowly approved the three-year deal. Unionized workers at the Phillips 66 refinery on Billings South Side also tentatively approved their deal, according to a source close to the negotiations.

After the framework was hammered out in the Shell negotiations in Pittsburgh, Pa., individual union locals must vote on issues unique to their facilities. Such matters usually include overtime policy, vacation time and leaves of absence.

Workers and their supporters gathered outside the ExxonMobil facility Thursday night for an informational rally to gather support for workers. They emphasized that they were not picketing or striking.

Union members from other refineries joined the ExxonMobil employees.

“Oh that’s great,” said J.W. Westsman, a senior operator at ExxonMobil. “It’s wonderful to have and there are some Cenex people out here as well. It’s a great show of support and really appreciated. and like I say, we’re all part of this community. it makes no difference whether we work for Cenex or Conoco Phillips or Exxon Mobil, we’re part of the community.”

An Exxon official told MTN that the company is not expecting a work stoppage but has contingency plans for all outcomes.