Did the BCTGM learn from the Hostess fiasco?

Locked-out American Crystal workers to reconsider firm's offer

Forced into financial hardship by a 16-month-long lockout that halved their ranks, American Crystal Sugar workers plan to vote next week on a labor contract that's changed little from management's initial offering.

Many workers are eager for a steady paycheck as winter approaches, ending the seasonal factory or farming jobs they've relied on since the lockout started Aug. 1, 2011, said Gayln Olson, a sugar boiler and union leader. Workers plan to vote Dec. 1.

"People are giving up," said Jeannie Madsen, who worked in the Moorhead company's lab and is engaged to Olson. "People are losing everything. People just want their jobs back."

When workers first rejected the contract last year they numbered roughly 1,300, but about half have retired or quit as two dozen meetings between the union and American Crystal Sugar representatives went nowhere. The union has three times rejected the contract because of health care cuts and changes to the role seniority would play in promotions, among other concerns.

The decision to vote a fourth time came as pressure mounted within the ranks and after a Nov. 15 meeting between both sides. Olson said workers are struggling between fighting for their rights and meeting their families' basic needs.
Comment: Like maybe a job is better than no job!


  1. Vote to be on 12/1: American Crystal Sugar standoff goes to a fourth vote

    Union workers at American Crystal Sugar vote Saturday on whether to accept a contract offer that would end one of the longest labor stoppages in recent Minnesota history.

    It's substantially the same contract they've already rejected three times, but the margin of rejection in the last vote in June was considerably lower than in 2011 votes. And the workers -- locked out since Aug. 1, 2011 -- are hurting more than ever as unemployment benefits have expired.

    "I'd expect a closer vote," said John Budd, a labor relations expert at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "Seasonal jobs [for locked-out workers] are harder to come by in the winter, and winter is a harder time to be without income as far as heating bills."


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