The United Steelworkers (USW) said that ExxonMobil shareholders yesterday approved a resolution introduced by the USW and seven co-filers calling for the company to disclose which organizations it supports for lobbying efforts, a necessary step in providing greater worker safety and corporate accountability.
“Shareholders face a dark money blind spot when the company fails to disclose its trade association payments used for lobbying, especially when these lobbying efforts contradict with ExxonMobil’s public position,” said Ricky Brooks, a member of USW Local 13-2001 who introduced the resolution. “Disclosure of the company’s payments to trade associations and social welfare groups that influence public policies will allow shareholders to assess the company’s management of risks.”
Brooks, representing the USW ExxonMobil union council, challenged ExxonMobil for discretely backing a number of organizations and positions that were inconsistent with their stated goals, including supporting the Western States Petroleum Association, which has sued the state of California to stop a program that would make oil refineries safer.
Additionally, during the shareholder meeting, the union challenged the company’s position on important issues, including its unfair labor practice lockout of some 660 union members in Beaumont, Texas.
Locked-out members of USW Local 13-243, who reported for work and were turned away by ExxonMobil on May 1, 2021, were joined by workers from ExxonMobil’s Baytown, Texas, facility for a demonstration outside of the company’s offices in Irving during yesterday’s annual meeting, during which shareholders also voted in two new board members from Engine No. 1, an activist investing firm.
USW District 13 Director Ruben Garza credited solidarity and the USW’s allies, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Boston Walden Trust and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), for the victorious shareholder resolution campaign.
“ExxonMobil may think it picked a fight with a few hundred USW members in Beaumont, but the company’s mistaken,” Garza said. “With the full power of the labor movement supporting us and the investing public paying close attention, we are absolutely dedicated to holding management accountable on all fronts.”
The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations.
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