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David Kragnes, Felton, Minn., Published April 21 2012

Critic of American Crystal lockout sucked in by union media machine

LoriJayne M. Grahn, in a Forum commentary April 14, sprinkles words like “greedy,” “unjustified,” “senseless” and “maliciously” into a condemnation of American Crystal after admitting she is not a beet grower nor a union member. Too bad she has been listening to the effective media machine the union has chosen to expend its creativity on.

Grahn, a dairy farmer, speaks often of corporate greed. Do people understand Crystal is a co-op, owned by all the hardworking people and families on beet farms?

Interestingly, Crystal just finished spending $20 million on a dust collection system to protect workers from explosion and fire. Dust in a sugar mill is mostly sugar. The union says bags of that collected dust prove we can’t make good sugar. Curious to me that results of a project for their safety would be used against us. Crystal also asked for a random drug testing policy to enhance safety; the elected negotiating team said no.

This should have been settled last June. In negotiations that started in May, Crystal made, as described by the National Labor Relations Board, significant movement. During this time the union, according to the NLRB, “Repeatedly refused to consider the employers’ proposals, and made virtually no counterproposals to address the Employers objectives.” They and we knew there was a crop growing that can’t wait around for people who refuse to talk.

Crystal had no choice but to get a group of workers ready who they knew were willing to run the mills till the crop was processed. The union chose not to be that group and on Aug. 1 could not have been surprised that their contract ran out.

I really wish the creativity shown by the union in their media efforts would have made its way into the union negotiating team. Just say no hasn’t worked. The federal mediator will call a meeting if she sees there is some hope. The union negotiating team has provided none.

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