BILLINGS – Union refinery workers at ExxonMobil refinery in Billings have voted down a proposed three-year contract, the company announced Wednesday night.
The proposed deal was recommended by the United Steelworkers Local 11-470 bargaining committee but rejected in a vote of the 140-member local, according to the company.
The vote doesn’t necessarily mean that a work stoppage is imminent. The union is required to give a 24-hour written notice that it’s canceling the contract before a strike is called or the company locks out workers.
Both sides expressed hope they would avoid a costly work stoppage.
“We plan to go back to the table and continue negotiating with ExxonMobil. It’s in our plan to come to a fair agreement for our contract,” Derek Weber, president of local 11-470, told Q2 Wednesday.
“While we are disappointed in this outcome, the Company remains available to meet with the Union to continue to bargain in good faith,” said Dan Carter, an ExxonMobil spokesman.
The union’s previous three-year contract expired Jan. 31, but the two sides agreed to continue negotiating under a series of rolling extensions. On Friday, union negotiators announced a tentative agreement would be put to a vote of the full membership.
According to the company, the contract changed certain rules regarding operators. These are the employees that operate machinery that makes the products.
Other larger issues had already been hammered out last month during negotiations between the United Steelworkers international and Shell Corp., which had taken the lead position among oil companies.
The contract included an 11 percent pay increase over three years, a $2,000 signing bonus for all employees, five days paid leave and additional vacation time after birth or adoption of a child.
United Steelworkers members at the CHS refinery in Laurel and Phillips 66 both approved new three-year deals last month.
Reporting by Erik Olson for MTN News