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Jay Sorum, Published December 04 2011

Characterization of union upsetting

Being an American Crystal Sugar employee for 22 years has put me smack dab in the middle of this lockout in the Red River Valley. Many things have been said and printed, but the other day when I heard that the union had been described by American Crystal Sugar management as a cancerous tumor that needs to be cut out, well, that one hurt.

The definition of a tumor is an abnormal growth that possesses no physiological function. The union has been a part of American Crystal Sugar since 1938. This seems like an awful long time for something to survive with a growth that has no function.

Look at what this tumor did for the company last year – a record year for the company. The beet payment for the 2010 crop was $73.02 per ton. The union was a part of that record. We work hard to ensure maximum return for the growers. We strive to operate the factories safely and efficiently, and when they break down, we all pull together and work hard to get them back on line. We travel in blizzards and stay extra shifts when others can’t make it in due to the weather. It is not the easiest way to make a living, but it is what we do, and we do it well and we do it with pride.

We offered to continue to work under the old contract with a no-strike provision until management and the union could reach an agreement. Instead we were given a final offer that everyone on both sides knew would be voted down. We want to work and turn the growers crop into sugar at the lowest cost and return a good profit to the growers.

We urge the growers to tell management to get back to the table and negotiate with the union so we can get back to work and return the pride to the Red River Valley and American Crystal Sugar.