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Gayle Lund, Published November 28 2011

Sugar dispute not about wages

In response to Paul Mathiason’s letter titled “Differing views of change drive sugar dispute.” (Forum, Nov. 20):

As a locked-out American Crystal Sugar employee, I can tell you that every one of us wants this lockout to end soon. I urge all growers to tell your board members to go back to the bargaining table. Offer us a reasonable health insurance plan, and leave seniority issues as they have been in past contracts, and this standoff will end. It’s that simple.

This dispute has never been about wages. Our union members have accepted below-cost-of-living raises for years in order to keep the health insurance plan we have had in the past. Should we really be expected to go backward after helping the growers get a record payment for last year’s crop?

Union employees now worry about how they are going to make their next house payment or how they are going to put food on the table for their families.

We employees have been an invaluable asset to the company for many years. Our record-breaking performance last campaign has proven that. Relations between union employees have always worked out very well in the past: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Unfortunately, many highly skilled employees have moved on to other jobs and may never return to Crystal Sugar. Many more are currently seeking new employment. This lockout has been unfair to us and has gone on way too long.