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By Scott Hennen, Published December 03 2011

Big Labor poisoned sugar talks

As a social and political commentator, it’s my job to present my opinion on current affairs. Whether you think I’m a right-wing extremist or preaching common sense, my opinions stem from deeply held beliefs that are often not subject to compromise. I respect those who embrace their principles, especially if they’re willing to bear the consequences for standing up for them. Unfortunately, the time has come for management to let American Crystal Sugar workers shoulder the burden of their convictions, and throw in the towel.

The negotiation process has been an exercise in futility. At a time when countless Americans are struggling to find jobs, the union has voted twice to refuse to return to theirs. Generous concessions have been offered in good faith by American Crystal, and union leadership has rejected them, showing no effort whatsoever to come to a fair agreement. The message from the picket line has been clear from the very start: “Take this job and shove it.”

Now, in the interest of closing an ugly chapter in the company’s history, management needs to take a hint and realize the union is not interested in what they have to offer. And though it’s noble for ACS CEO David Berg to express confidence that the conflict can be settled, he’s running east looking for a sunset.

Already, this long-protracted ordeal has taken a toll on the image of American Crystal Sugar and the area at large. Replacement workers have been targets for racial slurs and intimidation. Socialist organizations and left-wing movements have joined the fray in support for worker solidarity. Propaganda demonizing company executives continues to pour out of the headlines. Even if these toxic elements hadn’t poisoned the well for fruitful negotiation a long time ago, the BCTGM union kingpins can use existing labor laws to drag out the dispute.

It’s how Big Labor does business.

A choice has been made by the well-compensated professional protesters posing as “leaders” in the union. Sadly, their reckless, politically-motivated intransigence comes at the expense of 1,300 hard-working families, who must learn a simple reality of our free market economy: membership in a union enables you to negotiate a contract collectively; it does not, however, entitle you to a job. And in this economy, they’re plenty of people more than willing to take the good jobs ACS is offering. Management should oblige them. The company has already begun a transition to local, replacement workers–-let it continue. The demand for these positions is enormous.

If I could give the ACS workers any advice, it would be this: You’re highly skilled, committed to your profession, with your principles intact. Seize the opportunities around you, and move on.


Hennen, Fargo, is chairman of the Common Sense/Scott Hennen (radio) Show and president of Freedom Force Communications.