Locked-Out Sugar Workers Press For Jobless Benefits

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — More than 100 American Crystal Sugar Co. workers and their supporters rallied at the North Dakota Capitol on Monday.

They want the North Dakota Legislature to allow the workers to be paid unemployment benefits.

The Minnesota company locked out about 1,300 union-represented employees Aug. 1 when they couldn’t agree on a new labor contract.

The jobless-benefits problem affects about 400 North Dakota workers. Derek Whetzel works at American Crystal’s Hillsboro plant, and he says workers are “being starved out of house and home.”

The Legislature is meeting in special session this week. Portland state Sen. Philip Murphy was blocked from introducing a bill that would allow American Crystal’s North Dakota workers to get unemployment payments.

People at the rally said the Legislature should allow the bill to be introduced.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • stubby

    You losers voted to strike, now you want the state to pay you for being off of work? Go to your union leaders and ask them to support you……you made the choice, now live with it.

    • TFerguson

      Yes, they voted up a strike authorization, but the workers are not striking. They have been locked out by their employer.

      • Mark non union PROUD

        Because, the union told the morons to NOT accept the last offer the company put out. I agree, they made the decision to dig their heels in. The union leaders are at fault. It is a known fact that workers in ND do not get unemployment in an economic strike (AS IT SHOULD BE EVERYWHERE) why don’t these locked out morons ask the union why they were not told that they were at risk without benefit of State unemployment. what a bunch of idiots in these times!!!!

  • Sam

    Then sign your contract and end the lock out, or head the bakken

  • Sam

    Then sign your contract and end the lock out, or head for the bakken.

  • Jeff

    typical union mindset…..if you consider someone stupid enough to give a part of their paycheck for dues, qualifying to even have a mind…..live with you losers, you have no one to blame but yourselves….and then, ask yourselves if your union officers are hurting…..I bet not as you have lined their pockets already.

    • Jeffrey L Colquette

      From my understanding if a work place is unionized you have to join the union?

      • George

        You can vote out the union.

  • RaeRae

    They are not forced to being “starved out of house and home”. They could choose to leave the union and maybe American Crystal Sugar would give them their job back (though personally, I wouldn’t want a troublemaker on my payroll). They CHOSE to vote down the contract. They CHOSE not to negotiate with American Sugar (courts have already sided that the concessions American Sugar made in the negotiation process showed a good faith effort to come to an agreement with the union). If losing your home so you don’t hurt your pride is more important to you than working and being a contributing member to society, I don’t feel bad for you.

  • Jay

    Totally agree with the past responders! The unemployment rules have always been the same regarding striking unions, WHY should changes be made? The workers have had ample opportunities to return to work, to vote on various offerings by CS, and have been stupid enough to vote against. Times have changed dramatically, time to be happy you have a job even though the benefits arent as great as anyone would like. Many years ago, my Dad was a member of the seelworkers union when they went on strike. As a family, we all suffered a few years because of their strike. Then others belonging to the rubberworkers union decided to walk out. When you belong to the unions you dont have a choice alone, you all make the choice jointly, and suffer jointly.

    • nope

      There was a story on CCO not too long ago explaining the angst of the ND guys not getting unemployment while the ones living in MN were. MN is paying the MN residents unemployment! Why the author chose not to state that is beyond me. So the ND boys need to cross the border, get an apartment and enjoy all MN has to offer.

  • snake eyes

    These workers are crazy! the could have made the choice to accept the contract ot
    continue to strike, they made their bed, but don’t want to lay in it!
    They can get other jobs and picket in their free time!
    Or better yet, just get a new job and move on!
    The longer they are walking a picket line, the long it will be to make up that lost wage.
    Back in the 80’s Caterpillar in IL went on strike, it went on for over a year!
    What did they get? a whole 10cent an hour raise.. They lost in the long run!
    I will never work a union job as long as there are plenty of non-union jobs available!

  • Mark

    To those who aren’t involved; you know not what you speak.

    The reason these workers voted against this contract was because of one paragraph in the offer. This paragraph allows American Crystal Sugar to Sub-Contract any job covered by the bargaining agreement at any time without allowing any type of redress by the worker against the company.

    So sign on the dotted line, and we will make sure all of you are out of work tomorrow, so that we can have $8 an hour employees with NO benefits.

    Those who speak against these workers need to research before they comment!

    • Give us a break on your BS

      Shut up please

    • Mark non union PROUD

      holy cow! drink some more cool aid pal. ND has the lowest unemployment in the nation. these poor souls can find work anywhere and are not entitled to any benefit of unemployment.

      It is your dated backward ideas of someone owing a worker benefits. you my friend are clueless.

    • Jason

      Mark, you know not of what you speak. American Crystal Sugar has since changed this portion of the contract. The revised contract from the end of October clearly addressed the scenario you brought up. With certain projects and needs, outside, specialized subcontracted labor is often needed.

      “Changed the subcontracting language to guarantee that no employee or position will
      be eliminated due to subcontracting. The exact language inserted into the new offer
      reads: “No employee will be laid off or bargaining unit position eliminated
      because of the Company’s decision to subcontract work.” This assurance is now
      written into the contract.”

      Source: http://www.acsccontracttalks.com/oct.27.pdf

      • Mark


        The sub-contracting language in the link is still very clear.

        …because of the company’s decision to sub-contract work.

        This clearly shows intent on the part of management to enter into the subcontracting of these workers jobs. Although the company is stating that no position will be eliminated, it must be assumed that they are of the mindset that all jobs will be subcontracted, they just would have to fight the layoffs and elimination in court. And with the company having the ability to choose the arbitraitor in these cases, if they choose one whom is somewhat more sympathetic to management, these workers would still be out of a job.

        Thank you for the link, but I would still vote against this language until all reference to subcontracting was removed.

        Also, the Minnesota resident workers are not affected by this decision, only those who live in North Dakota with their “Right To Work (FOR LESS)” rules. No prevailing wage standards and other issues that are anti-worker

        • @Mark

          Mark, are you aware how prevelant sub-contracting is these days? My girls and my employers both have regular employees and subs, it is quite common these days, simple fact if you don’t sign the next one you will never return they don’t need you, you’re quite replaceable.

  • pat

    What? i thought the union was suppose to protect you and help you. Why have you been paying all those dues?
    You have been fooled.

    • Mark

      The union is doing their best to protect these workers. The offers that are causing this disagreement are being made by the company.

      These are the most stressful and dificult times of negotiations. You enter into a hope that both sides will show mutual respect towards each other, but sometimes respect is tossed out the window by one of both parties.

  • Matt

    You made your bed now sleep in it!

  • Lenny

    This will finally go away with the workers out of a job, tired, broke, and wondering what happen. The union says goodbye and moves onto the next victim.

    • Mark

      Is it the union; or the greed mentallity that this nation’s business community that causes this?

      The new pledge of allegience:

      I pledge allegience to the flag of the multinational corporations,
      and to the profit for which they stand, one interlocking directorate, under no government, indivisible, with monopoly and cheap labor for all!

      Welcome to the Wal-Mart Republic. Low prices, and even lower wages! ALWAYS!

  • NO TAX MONEY !!!


  • dumb and dumber

    Union bosses, and union members.

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