Crystal talks end without settlementGRAND FORKS — Despite a long negotiating session Monday between representatives of locked-out union workers and American Crystal Sugar Co. officials, no deal was struck and both sides left the table again.
By: Stephen J. Lee, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — Despite a long negotiating session Monday between representatives of locked-out union workers and American Crystal Sugar Co. officials, no deal was struck and both sides left the table again.
As the lock out enters its seventh month today, picketing activity by union members at the five Crystal factories in the Red River Valley has slackened, with fewer huddled in small warming houses at the gates for fewer hours on fewer days.
Meanwhile, some locked-out workers have resigned from the Bakery Worker’s union in order to take non-permanent replacement jobs at the factories, according to Brian Ingulsrud, Crystal’s vice president for administration and spokesman for the negotiations.
But union leader Scott Ripplinger said the union is standing strong and members will hold a “Get Back to Work” rally at 8 a.m. today outside the front gate of the Crystal plant in East Grand Forks, Minn.
“We had a negotiating session yesterday that didn’t pan out that well,” Ripplinger said Tuesday. “We want to send the message that our members are ready to work whenever the company is ready to start things. We haven’t given up on them and we hope they haven’t given up on us.”
Ingulsrud said Monday’s meeting between both sides in front of a federal mediator lasted seven hours.
“I guess you could say there was progress, in that the union did come with proposals that were different from what they had come with before,” he said.
About 1,300 union employees were locked out Aug. 1, after 95 percent of members voted not to accept a contract proposed by management.
Lee is a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.