Some returning sugar workers wonder if they got a sweet deal


When American Crystal Sugar union workers return to their jobs they will earn higher wages but will pay more expensive health care premiums and see a reduction in job security.

Over the weekend, union members narrowly ratified a new contact. They had been locked out of five factories in the Red River Valley since August of 2011. It was their fifth contract vote.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that workers expect a bumpy return to their old jobs. Union workers will work alongside employees who replaced them.

Employee meetings are scheduled over the next two weeks to determine how many union members will return. The should be back on the job in about six weeks.

Last year's sugar beet harvest will be processed and the factories will close for the summer by the time union workers return.

Based in Moorhead, American Crystal is a cooperative owned by about 2,800 sugar beet growers. It is the nation's largest sugar beet processor.

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One year after sugar lockout, workers are weary, some still hopeful

Wednesday marks one year since 1,300 American Crystal Sugar workers were locked out in a labor dispute. The lockout has frayed nerves and friendships in the five Red River Valley towns where plants are located. A number of workers have found other jobs and are beginning to move on. Others remain hopeful the lockout will come to an end and they will return to the plant.

Crystal Sugar workers pressure board members

Union members are demonstrating at the homes of American Crystal Sugar's directors as the labor dispute drags on. An AFL-CIO spokesman tells the Fargo Forum the demonstrations will continue indefinitely. Roughly 1,300 workers have been locked out from plants in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa for more than a year.