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Christopher Bjorke, Forum Communications, Published November 21 2012

American Crystal: Union may vote again on contract

GRAND FORKS - American Crystal Sugar management is expecting locked-out union workers to vote again on a labor contract in a little more than a week.

According to a statement on a Crystal website devoted to contract negotiations, www.ACSCcontracttalks.com, representatives from management and the union’s bargaining committee met Nov. 15 and discussed management’s contract offer.

Following the meeting, the website said, “American Crystal has received indications (but not a formal notification) that the BCTGM may conduct a vote on December 1, 2012.”

It’s a change from the last meeting on Sept. 5, when representatives of Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers told management that they did not plan another vote.

Crystal and union representatives were not available Wednesday evening.

The union represents about 1,300 workers at Crystal’s sugar production plants in the Red River Valley, including in East Grand Forks, Crookston and Drayton, N.D.

Union members have not returned to work since the company locked them out Aug. 1, 2011, after they rejected management’s contract offer.

They voted again in November 2011 and this past June, each time rejecting the contract. In the last vote, 63 percent of voting members voted “no.” Union officials said 82 percent of members participated.

Bakery Workers members, with the support of the AFL-CIO, have called for a boycott of Crystal products.

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