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Union leader: North Dakota House punishes workers for State Mill's success

For no good reason, the North Dakota House is set to take away the profit sharing from the employees of the State Mill. This is a management tool that was written into law 25 years ago, and the incentives it has created for all workers has made o...

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For no good reason, the North Dakota House is set to take away the profit sharing from the employees of the State Mill.

This is a management tool that was written into law 25 years ago, and the incentives it has created for all workers has made our state-owned mill the best in the nation. Still the House refuses to agree to keep the profit sharing in place.

So why are they tinkering with a well-oiled machine?

Well, that's the real issue, and it involves two items in the State Mill budget, the profit sharing and the percentage of profits the state drains into its coffers every biennium. The Senate has been reasonable. It wants to keep the profit sharing and take only 50 percent of the profits.

The House, on the other hand, demands 90 percent of the profits, and they're using the profit sharing as a bargaining chip to get it.

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The senators on the committee have even offered 65 percent of the profits, but over the past week, the House has refused to budge. Either give up 90 percent of the mill's profits or risk losing the profit sharing for the workers.

This position is incredibly unfair. The House is holding the mill workers' lives and livelihoods hostage to get their way in committee. These workers have done their best to make the mill as profitable as possible, yet now they are nothing more than a bargaining chip to force the Senate to bend.

Is this fair? Is this the state of North Dakota politics?

Our workers deserve better. They are not pawns to be moved around the board to gain some advantage for House Majority Leader Al Carlson. They are human beings doing their best to make sure their plant is as efficient and profitable as possible.

They deserve to keep what they have, and the state of North Dakota deserves to keep what works.

Worker's livelihoods need to be off the table in these petty games.

Waylon Hedegaard

Bismarck

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Hedegaard is president/secretary-treasurer of the North Dakota AFL-CIO.

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