Union Workers Reject American Crystal’s 2nd Offer

Ninety-two percent of union members voted on a second contract offer from American Crystal Sugar Company, and 90 percent rejected it.

In an ongoing labor dispute with Moorhead-based American Crystal Sugar Company, locked-out union workers on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a second contract offer.

According to the union that represents the 1,300 locked-out workers-Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Local 167G-92 percent of union members voted on the offer via a secret ballot and 90 percent rejected it.

“Today our members sent a loud and clear message to American Crystal executives,” union President John Riskey said in a statement. “We want to work, but we will not accept a contract that puts our jobs and the entire community at risk.”

Riskey said the result should be a signal for American Crystal leaders to return to the bargaining table as soon as possible.

“If company executives are serious about getting us back to work, they should return to the negotiating table immediately with real compromises, not just repackaged versions of a contract that has now been rejected twice,” Riskey said in a statement. “It's time for a contract that benefits workers, the company, growers, and the community.”

The workers have been locked out since August 1. According to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), American Crystal offered the newest contract after two days of negotiation last week-which failed to end the standstill. No new negotiations have been scheduled, according to MPR.

In September, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sided with American Crystal by dismissing four union claims alleging that the company failed to negotiate in good faith prior to the lockout and violated the National Labor Relations Act.

The NLRB found that the union “repeatedly refused” to consider American Crystal's proposals and “made virtually no counterproposals” to try to address the company's objectives. Additionally, American Crystal's last two proposals before the lockout contained “significant movement” and included “significant concessions” on “non-economic items,” the board said.

Following the NLRB's dismissal of the union claims, American Crystal Vice President for Administration Brian Ingulsrud said that the board's decision “clearly affirms that we have acted with transparency, clarity, and willingness to compromise.”

MPR said Tuesday that Ingulsrud indicated that the company won't talk about the costs of the lockout. He also told the news organization that the two sides likely won't talk again until the union proposes its own contract.