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Published June 18, 2012, 07:00 PM

Locked-out Workers Not Backing Down as Another Contract Vote Nears

CROOKSTON, MN (WDAZ-TV) - The vote is drawing near for locked-out American Crystal Sugar workers to decide if they will leave the picket lines and get back to work.

CROOKSTON, MN (WDAZ-TV) - The vote is drawing near for locked-out American Crystal Sugar workers to decide if they will leave the picket lines and get back to work.

Even though union workers are re-thinking their decision to reject a contract offered by the American Crystal Sugar Company, many are still reluctant to back down.

Some workers in Crookston say the nearly 11-month lockout has taken its toll on their families and communities.

Although some have taken other jobs, or tried to move on, they would still like to get back to work with Crystal, which will be determined this Saturday.

"It's a very tough thing to deal with right now," locked-out worker Scott Aubol said.

Aubol worked for American Crystal Sugar for 34 years but after the lockout began, he has had to find several different jobs to make ends meet.

"Some of us can do a lot of other stuff and are willing to. But we would definitely like to get back and if they did give us a fair contract, we would go back, make our factories run again and we would give 110 percent," Aubol said.

Executives from Crystal Sugar met with locked-out workers on June 8, to offer what they say was their last and final contract deal.

"Nothing was changed and we're at a standstill," Aubol said.

Now union workers will vote on whether to accept or reject the contract offered by American Crystal, which would end the nearly 11-month lockout.

"It's different circumstances for everybody, that's why we're bringing it back to the people to allow them to vote on it," local Bakery Union President Roger Delage said.

"It's pretty tough to vote on this first and final offer because nobody likes it, it's not good for anybody and I don't know how it's going to go," Aubol said.

Union leaders expect a good turnout this Saturday, but are unsure about what will happen if the contract gets voted down. But one thing is clear: they are not giving up.

"I guess we'll meet and see what the next step is and bring it back to the membership and see what their feelings are and where else we can move to try and bring pressure to end this lockout," Delage said.

Union members will vote Saturday, June 23 up and down the Red River Valley. Calls to American Crystal representatives were not returned Monday.

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