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Bill eliminating profit-sharing at North Dakota Mill passes House

An Industrial Commission appropriations bill with amendments eliminating the profit-sharing program at the North Dakota Mill passed the state House Wednesday 68 to 22.

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The state-owned North Dakota Mill and Elevator. (Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)

An Industrial Commission appropriations bill with amendments eliminating the profit-sharing program at the North Dakota Mill passed the state House Wednesday 68 to 22.

The bill also will increase the amount of mill profits transferred to the general fund from 50 percent to 75 percent.

Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Bismarck, argued the increase in transfers is reasonable considering recent history.

He said in the 2000s, the state took a full 100 percent of the mill profits, and the Industrial Commission had recommended 90 percent.

He said mill employees were the only unionized state employees in the state and the only ones to get any kind of profit-sharing bonuses. They also receive scheduled overtime pay.

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"It's not a big deal," Delzer said.

Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, said he was "disappointed" in these proposals.

"It's unfair to the workers," he said.

He argued the mill is one of the top-producing mills in the country and has seen record profits in the past few years, a fact he attributed to the employee incentives the mill provides its workforce.

Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, said the Bank of North Dakota is another state-run business that generates profits, but its employees do not receive any share of the profits.

While not dismissing the mill employees' contribution, he said profits could also be traced to other factors, such as the quality and price of North Dakota commodities the mill uses.

The bill will now go to conference committee for reconciliation with the Senate.

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