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United Steelworkers union to vote on latest ExxonMobil proposal next week

Even though they want to get back to work, some said they still plan to vote "no" to ExxonMobil’s proposal.

BEAUMONT, Texas — After months of back and forth, could the ExxonMobil lockout be coming to an end? That all depends on how union workers vote next week.

After months of protests, rallies, and demonstrations, union workers will make their voices heard and vote "yes" or "no" to ExxonMobil's latest contract proposal on Tuesday, October 19.

They've been locked out since January. Even though they want to get back to work, some said they still plan to vote "no" to ExxonMobil’s proposal.

"The company is trying to squeeze us and extort us and starve us out," said union worker Johnnie Vaught.

Vaught has worked for ExxonMobil for 15 years.

He said the company has repeatedly shot down the union's main demands when it comes to seniority, job security, and safety. 

"We are trying to protect jobs for the future," Vaught said. "This is about job security for those people who are there. It's about seniority. It's about trying to make things safer."

Locked out ExxonMobil union workers will vote on the energy giant’s latest offer Tuesday, October 19.

This vote comes on the heels of a group of these locked-out workers filing a decertification petition with the goal of breaking away from the union.

We asked Local Union Rep Bryan Gross if this had any effect on the upcoming vote. He said that's a separate issue.

"Regardless of the de-cert, we still have an obligation to represent our members, and we're in negotiations so we're still meeting with the company," Gross said.

Gross said it will take a majority of the union members to vote in favor of ExxonMobil's latest proposal in order for the two sides to reach an agreement.

But Gross and several other union members say the deal simply isn't good enough.

"There's still a negative impact to the members in the future,” Gross said. “There's some jobs, you know, they agreed to keep some jobs and a few classifications but we're gonna lose half the people in there so we're still losing jobs in the end."

Gross said the company has agreed to let some of the ExxonMobil workers return to work in their current positions.

But once employees retire from certain positions, the company doesn't plan on filling them.

In a previous statement, ExxonMobil has promised to bring back employees when a deal is reached.

But the reality right now for the locked-out workers, they are without a paycheck, and the bills are piling up. Many are depending on the union to help including a union-run pantry.

"We're allowed to come in and get food every week that we need. They've helped us with our house notes, they've helped us with our utilities,” Vaught said.

And ExxonMobil released a statement Tuesday regarding the upcoming vote saying in part, "While we are disappointed that it took this long, we are encouraged by this opportunity for a vote on our offer and are supportive of our employees' rights to have their voice heard."

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