For the fourth time, locked-out American Crystal Sugar workers rejected an identical contract offer from the management company. The workers are members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM).
American Crystal Sugar workers have gone 16 months without a contract.
Susan Sylvester, a Crookston, Minn., resident who has worked at the company for 37 years, told the Huffington Post:
Our families, they’ve really suffered great hardship, especially the ones with little kids….It’s a strain on marriages, it’s a strain on relationships. Sixteen months with no pay coming in.
See the video “AFL-CIO: Children Speak Out Against the American Crystal Sugar Company Lockout (BCTGM).” Donate to the American Crystal Sugar Lockout Fund.
“By now it should be clear that Dave Berg and Crystal Sugar’s management team has no interest in ending a fiscally irresponsible lockout that has been disastrous to farmer shareholders, put the federal sugar program in jeopardy and hurt countless families in the Red River Valley,” said BCTGM Local 167G President John Riskey. “It’s time for shareholders to reclaim their company and send management back to the table for real give-and-take negotiations.”
Since the lockout began, American Crystal Sugar’s:
- Profits have fallen. Net proceeds fell more than 30% in fiscal 2012 to $555 million, compared to $811 million for the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2011. The amount received by growers per ton of beets fell more than $14 to $58.67. In contrast, farmers at Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative are projected to receive $74.05 per ton in 2012. Western Sugar expects $82.70 per ton, and Michigan Sugar expects $87.74 per ton.
- Production is down. Warehouses are full of unsalable remelt. Production of molasses—a less valuable product compared to sugar—grew 124% due to storage problems and production delays. Tons of products produced and sold declined more than 15% in fiscal 2012, to the lowest level in a decade.
- Debt continues to rise. Short-term debt increased to $110 million at the end of August 2012, a 66% increase from the $66.2 million in debt at the end of fiscal 2011, and a 2,100% increase from $5 million in debt at the end of fiscal 2010. merican Crystal Sugar had its lender increase its line of credit by $60 million.
In October, the AFL-CIO announced a nationwide boycott of American Crystal Sugar products. Learn more about the American Crystal Sugar products boycott.