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Union votes today on new American Crystal contract proposals

Union members will vote today on the new contract proposals from American Crystal Sugar Co. The company's locked out union workers will vote by secret ballot. Plans call for the vote totals to be announced at 6 tonight by John Riskey, president o...

American Crystal Sugar
American Crystal Sugar Co. logo

Union members will vote today on the new contract proposals from American Crystal Sugar Co.

The company's locked out union workers will vote by secret ballot. Plans call for the vote totals to be announced at 6 tonight by John Riskey, president of Local 167G of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers.

Union leaders have made clear they are not satisfied with the company's new proposals, saying that they aren't enough, but they will not recommend how the 1,300 locked out members should vote.

American Crystal's corporate leadership and leaders of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers met last week in Fargo. The talks ended with little agreement between the two sides, but the union said it would take the company's latest concessions to its members, who have been locked out by American Crystal since Aug. 1.

The company is proposing to guarantee that no jobs will be lost to sub-contracting and to extend free health care by 14 months, rather than for the life of the contract as the union wants.

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Today, each of the five factory districts will have a voting location where employees from that district will mark paper ballots in a secret vote, according to Riskey, president and business manager for the union representing workers at the East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Drayton, N.D., plants.

Approval requires a simple majority, Riskey said.

The last vote was in late July, and union members turned down the company's proposals with a 97 percent majority.

In a letter "to employees," dated Thursday and posted on the company's website, Brian Ingulsrud, Crystal's vice president for administration, wrote: "We want you back on the job. That's why we offered an amended contract proposal to union leadership this week."

American Crystal Sugar also has processing plants in Crookston, Hillsboro, N.D., and Drayton, N.D.; and packaging and transportation sites in Chaska, Minn. and Mason City, Iowa. Workers at these facilities are represented by BCTGM Locals 167G (Grand Forks), 265G (Chaska), 267G (Crookston), 269G (Mason City) and 372G (Hillsboro, N.D.).

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