American Crystal talks generate new offer but not much optimism

A union leader says a revised contract offer by American Crystal Sugar makes only minor changes in the deal workers have already rejected. Even so, he says the union will put it to a vote of members. Crystal says the offer comes off the table if it's not accepted by November 1st.
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A union leader says a revised contract offer by American Crystal Sugar makes only minor changes in the deal workers have already rejected. Even so, he says the union will put it to a vote of members. Crystal says the offer comes off the table if it's not accepted by November 1st.

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American Crystal Sugar workers reject contract offer for third time

Locked-out union employees at American Crystal Sugar Co. Saturday said no for the third time in nearly a year to their company's contract offer. The union says 63 percent of the union's 1,300 worker membership voted against the offer. The workers have been locked out of plants in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa since last August.

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Union leaders say 90 percent of members who cast ballots voted against the company's latest offer. The rejection means 1,300 workers are heading into the fourth month of their lockout.

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Union leaders have said the company's offer is not very different from the one workers rejected at the start of the lockout three months ago. But some financially-squeezed workers plan to vote to accept it.

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A union official says there won't be mass concessions but there will be new proposals when locked out workers site down for mediated talks with American Crystal Sugar on June eighth. The two sides have not spoken since February. The lockout of 1,300 workers began last August.

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American Crystal Sugar and its locked out union workers were scheduled to meet again Friday in an effort to restart contract talks. The company locked out 1,300 workers at five factories last August. This is the fourth time the two sides have met with a federal mediator to try to end the impasse.

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Congressional leaders are calling on American Crystal Sugar to return to negotiations with union workers. 90 percent of the company's 1,300 locked out workers voted against the latest offer Monday.

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