Exxon has said it would end the lockout only with union members ratifying its offer or their agreement to remove the United Steelworkers (USW) local 13-243 as bargaining agent for the Beaumont, Texas, refinery.
About 600 hourly workers at the 369,024 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery and Mobil 1 motor oil plant were locked out May 1 to preclude a wildcat strike, Exxon has said. The facility has continued to run since then with managers and temporary workers.
The contract was approved by a vote of 214 to 133, according to USW International representative Bryan Gross.
"It has been a long fight, 10-months," Gross told Reuters following the vote. "But the members decided to ratify the contract."
The union intends to continue with an unfair labor practices complaint against the company over the lockout, he said.
The approved contract allows Exxon to make all assignments, an issue that led to a rejection vote in October. A quarter of assignments previously were determined by worker seniority. The contract also adds Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday.
Still to be decided is whether the USW will continue to represent the plant's hourly workers. The U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) oversaw a vote in November and December on removing the USW, a move sought by 30% of union members.
Results of that vote have been withheld while the NLRB reviews USW unfair labor practice charges alleging Exxon began the lockout to force the union's removal. read more
Before the Beaumont workers can return to work, the two sides must negotiate an agreement that sets rules for returning employees. Preliminary talks on the agreement began last week.