American Crystal Sugar Lock-out
Sugar workers reject second contract offer, lock-out continues
Adapted from the Minneapolis Labor Review, September 30, 2011
EAST GRAND FORKS — The union members who have been locked out from American Crystal Sugar plants since August 1 rejected the company’s most recent offer in a vote November 1.
In a resounding show of solidarity after three months locked out from their jobs, 90 percent of voting union workers rejected the deal, with 92 percent of all members voting, reported the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers union.
“If company executives are serious about getting us back to work, they should return to the negotiating table immediately with real compromises, not just repackaged versions of a contract that has now been rejected twice,” said Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union local 167G President John Riskey. “It’s time for a contract that benefits workers, the company, growers, and the community.”’
The workers in three states have been locked out since they rejected a contract at the end of July, partly due to concerns about the cost of a new health care plan and provisions that would have allowed the company to use more subcontractors.
“Today our members sent a loud and clear message to American Crystal Executives,” said Riskey. “We want to work, but we will not accept a contract that puts our jobs and the entire community at risk.”
The only two previous negotiations were requested by a federal mediator
As the Labor Review went to press November 17, no further negotiations or mediations sessions were scheduled, according to Andrew Bushaw, field organizer for the North Dakota AFL-CIO.
Bushaw said 150 North Dakota workers, who do not receive unemployment insurance during a lockout (unlike Minnesota), rallied during a special session of the North Dakota legislature November 9.
The lockout affects 1,300 union workers at facilities in Moorhead, East Grand Forks, Crookston, and Chaska, Minnesota; Hillsboro and Drayton, North Dakota; and Mason City, Iowa.
Send a donation to benefit
To donate to a fund for the benefit of the locked-out workers, send checks payable to “Minnesota AFL-CIO” to 175 Aurora Ave., St. Paul, MN 55103. In the memo line, print “BCTGM Lockout 2011.”
Includes reporting by Workday Minnesota and Minneapolis Labor Review.
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