American Crystal Sugar Strike Drags On

April 13th, 2012

Union workers for the American Crystal Sugar plant probably didn’t envision their strike going on for nine months, but many feel that although the talks have continually broken down, they are united in their cause. The employment dispute is one that does not have an end in sight.

The impasse between American Crystal and the approximately 1,300 union workers stems from an offer made to the workers in July that the company believes is fair. The contract would increase pay by 17 percent over the 5-year contract period, increase pension, leave and vacation benefits. The union feels that there are provisions in the contract that are detrimental to seniority and job security — the main sticking point for the workers.

In the meantime, American Crystal has been using replacement workers to operate their plants in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa. Recent talks between the two sides in January ended with no resolution and no new talks have been scheduled.

While most of the union members believe that the contract offers are unfair, the lengthy hold out has had some of the union members moving and taking on new jobs, retiring and putting off major life decisions.

Workers in Minnesota and Iowa are able to receive unemployment, but North Dakota doesn’t offer it in their state, so those workers have been forced to find other ways to make a living.

While this employment dispute has no end in sight, it appears that the union workers that are left are remaining united in their fight.

Source: CBS Minnesota, “Crystal Employees Alter Lifestyles During Lockout,” April 2, 2012.

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