Exxon, union workers reach safety deal to avert Baytown refinery strike


HOUSTON -- ExxonMobil and a union representing workers at the company's refinery in Baytown, Texas, reached a tentative agreement over contract language on safety, a dispute that the union said earlier this week could lead to a strike if not resolved.

A spokesman for the United Steelworkers local at Baytown said Exxon agreed to implement a fatigue management system regulating how many days in a row someone can work and to accept a process safety representative position in the new three year contract.

"We had been at a standstill on those two items before the bargaining session," USW spokesman Lynne Hancock said in an email.

Exxon spokeswoman Patty Errico confirmed that the two sides had reached a tentative agreement, but declined to provide additional details.

"We look forward to moving ahead together and maintaining the good working relationships our employees share with us and one another," Ms. Errico said.

The 584,000 bpd refinery is the second largest in the US. The facility's 850 union employees will vote on the deal May 14 and 15, USW spokesman Richard Landry said.

If the majority of the members accept the agreement, it will avert a strike the union had said could go into effect June 15 unless Exxon agreed to new contract language on safety at the plant.

The union cited recent safety issues including a rupture in an Exxon pipeline in Arkansas and a fire at Exxon's Beaumont, Texas, refinery last month in pushing for additional safety standards. It had said similar provisions were already in place at other Exxon refineries in Torrance, California; Billings, Montana; Chalmette, Louisiana; and Beaumont.

Dow Jones Newswires

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