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Ryan Bakken, Forum Communications, Published May 03 2012

Crystal Sugar: 'Our final offer is our final offer'

GRAND FORKS - American Crystal Sugar has agreed to sit down with the Bakery Workers union and a federal mediator June 8, “but our final offer is our final offer,” ACS spokesman Brian Ingulsrud said Thursday.

Ingulsrud, vice president for administration, said the company has always honored the mediator’s meeting requests, but added that position changes aren’t in the offing.

“We feel our final offer is attractive,” he said. “We’ve had more than 7,000 applicants and hired more than 800 employees, including a number of locked-out workers who have returned. That number continues to grow.”

John Riskey, president of Local 167G, which represents locked-out workers at factories in East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Drayton, N.D., said previous meetings with a mediator have not been fruitful.

“We hope there will be negotiations,” Riskey said. “The last few times we met, (company representatives) just listened.”

The last time the two sides met was in February. Management wants union members to pay health insurance premiums, offering to pay for one year, and the right to promote by merit rather than seniority. Union members respond that paying insurance premiums would erase too much of the raises.

Bakken is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald.