Saturday, January 7, 2012

American Crystal Sugar lockout

from the Letters column of the latest Militant

Sugar beet lockout

I find it alarming that the InForum [newspaper in Fargo-Moorhead, N.D.] editors would select David Berg, CEO of American Crystal Sugar, as Area Person of the year for 2011. But since Time magazine also selected Adolf Hitler in 1938, one year before he invaded Poland, I am also not surprised.

Yes, he has impacted the Red River Valley. He has created a divide among ACS and its workers, and also among many people in the communities local to the factories that will take years to repair, if it’s repairable at all.

He has taken 1,300 families out of the working middle class and dropped them into poverty. He’s done more damage over a wider area than most tornadoes on record.

Could we simply have signed the contract and stayed at work? Sure. Would we be taking a step backward? Sure. We did the right thing not only for ourselves, but for future workers at Crystal Sugar and for workers around the U.S.

Many of the jobs at ACS are dangerous ones, working with or around industrial strength and deadly chemicals, super steam, moving, old, dated machinery. That we take a deep interest in our health care is normal.

Our insurance is the union.

Chris Halligan
Former bulk sugar loader
ASC factory, East Grand Forks, Minn.

Editor’s note: After they rejected a concession contract offer, American Crystal Sugar locked out 1,300 workers, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union, Aug. 1 at five sugar beet factories across the Red River Valley of the Upper Midwest and two smaller plants in the region nearby. ACS then brought in more than 1,000 scabs. The locked-out workers have since maintained picket lines and mounted a sustained fight. Solidarity messages and donations can be sent to BCTGM Local 167G, 100 N 3rd, Suite 50, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Write checks to BCTGM 167G with “2011 BCTGM lockout” in the memo line.

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