Lockout wears on out-of-work American Crystal employees

Three months without a paycheck is starting to wear on locked-out American Crystal Sugar union employees. Many are scraping by on savings, temporary jobs and donated food.
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Three months without a paycheck is starting to wear on locked-out American Crystal Sugar union employees. Many are scraping by on savings, temporary jobs and donated food.

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American Crystal exec says replacement workers getting job done

An American Crystal Sugar Co. executive says the company’s replacement workers are handling this fall’s sugar beet harvest well, nearly 14 months after the company locked out its union workers in a contract dispute. Meanwhile, the company and workers are arguing in court over whether the employees should get unemployment benefits.

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.

American Crystal says cost of lockout will pass as workers are replaced

The sugar giant will offer beet growers in the Red River Valley a lower price this year, partly because of the financial toll of its lockout of 1,300 union workers. But the company says it has already replaced more than half of those workers. Crystal promised growers higher prices next year, when the company expects all of the locked out workers will have been replaced.

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American Crystal Sugar is adamant that it will not change its contract offer to 1,300 union workers. Some of the employees who have been locked out for nearly 11 months are now interested in voting again on the offer they've spurned in the past. Union leaders have scheduled a vote for June 23.

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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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Employees at American Crystal Sugar have been locked out for 85 days now. Some union members say they're hopeful they can negotiate a deal when talks resume Monday. One company executive told the Fargo Forum he expects the union will make significant movement away from its original positions.