By PI Staff
We pledge to coordinate and support the efforts to highlight American Crystal Sugar’s total disregard for its employees and to make them a poster child for corporate greed and profit over employees.”
Since the lockout began last year, a number of American Crystal workers have retired, quit or have taken other jobs to pay bills until the issue is resolved. Locked out workers in North Dakota were denied unemployment benefits and have been at more financial risk than their counterparts in Minnesota who received unemployment.
Trumka says the AFL-CIO will be there to the end. In fact, some financial settlements will be made available to a portion of the locked out workers with more financial aid to come in the future.
“As long as we stick together, as long as we get the word out, there’s no way that they can win because they don’t get to decide when this fight’s over. We’ll decide when the fight’s over, and the fight’s not over until they get fair treatment.”
Trumka believes the lockout represents a fundamental question about the future of America.
“It’s, ‘Do we believe that by working hard everyone should be able to get ahead and be paid what you’re worth, or that companies should take profits without concern for their employees, their cooperative farmers or their community?'”
American Crystal says the contract offer that the workers have rejected is fair, building on a wages-and-benefits package of $75,000 a year on average for a full-time year-round employee.
The workers at facilities in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa were locked out on Aug. 1, 2011.
A local union president from the northern Red River Valley said his members will be encouraged when they hear the news.
“This will bring it to the nation,” John Riskey said, which will put pressure on the company.
While the campaign could get nasty, he said, communities around Crystal plants already are tense. “They won’t talk to each other,” he said of people on the two sides of the issue.
Many people in the public are unaware that replacement workers have been hired by American Crystal Sugar and will soon be in the process of harvesting this year’s crop. This work is being done at the expense of the 1,300 locked out workers who used to work at plants in Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota.