American Crystal Makes Deal with Workers, But Not in MN

The company claims that the contract agreed upon recently with its union workers in Montana is similar to the one that was offered to 1,300 workers from other states who are currently locked out-but a representative of the locked-out workers says otherwise.

American Crystal Sugar recently signed a new contract with union workers employed by its Montana-based subsidiary, Sidney Sugars Incorporated.

The Moorhead-based co-op said that the terms of the new three-year labor contract include wage increases, an increase in employee pensions, and a change in health care coverage that moves union employees to the same medical plan as non-union employees.

According to a report in the Grand Forks Herald, the company also said that the new three-year contract is similar to the one that was rejected last July by 1,300 union workers employed at the company's factories in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Iowa, who have since been locked out. The company has been running the factories on temporary workers since the lockout occured.

John Riskey, a spokesman for the union that represents the locked-out workers, however, told the Grand Forks newspaper that there are significant differences in the two contracts. The contract offered to the Sidney workers is about the same as the one the other workers had prior to the lockout, Riskey said. Meanwhile, the contract offered to the locked-out workers stripped away several union prerogatives, he added.

American Crystal reportedly claims that it took only three days of negotiations to reach the contract for the 241 union workers in Montana.

To read the story in the Grand Forks Herald, click here.