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Unions Call for Renewed Negotiations as American Crystal Lockout Reaches One Month

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September 1, 2011

MINNETONKA, Minn. - Union leaders in Minnesota are calling for renewed negotiations between Moorhead-based American Crystal Sugar and its 1,300 locked-out workers.

Union members and supporters will hold a rally this morning at the Minnetonka headquarters of Strom Engineering, a firm supplying Crystal with replacement workers. At one month in, says Minnesota AFL-CIO president Shar Knutson, the lockout has already lasted much too long.

"Time to end the lockout and time to get back to the table and get serious about getting the contract resolved, people back to work."

Knutson says one reason the lockout continues is because of the replacement workers supplied by Strom Engineering.

"This is a company that specializes in hostile actions against union workers and will provide replacement workers. We want them to make sure that they understand that they are not helping Minnesota at all."

Knutson says the rally is intended to send a message to Strom Engineering to stop exploiting labor disputes because it's detrimental to the workers involved - and to the state.

"The Minnesotans that are working for Crystal Sugar are now taking unemployment, and then at the same time we're bringing replacements in from out of state. It just doesn't make sense."

Strom Engineering had no comment. American Crystal says the contract rejected by its workers was fair.

The lockout affects union workers at facilities in Moorhead, East Grand Forks, Crookston and Chaska, Minn.; Hillsboro and Drayton, N.D.; and Mason City, Iowa.

No new talks are scheduled.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN