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Published June 14 2012

Crystal union plans another vote June 23 on labor deal that prompted lockout

MOORHEAD – American Crystal Sugar’s locked-out union workers will vote again June 23 on whether to accept the company’s last contract offer.

The union rejected the same offer in November, with 90 percent of workers voting no. But after the most recent round of talks ended quickly and without progress last week, union leaders consulted with members and decided there was sufficient interest to vote on it again.

The company has been steadfast in recent months about its refusal to budge from the last offer, which it says makes fair and necessary updates to the contract. It says the costs of the lockout are falling by the day as replacement workers get more experience.

The union says the company is leaving money on the table by locking out its most skilled and experience workers.

Union leaders say they’re still concerned about a number of issues in the contract, including seniority rights, but don’t want to deny their members a voice.

“We’re a democratic organization,” said John Riskey, a union spokes-man. “We’ll let the people decide.”