Locked-out workers at American Crystal Sugar plants in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa will soon be returning to work after they ratified a contract late last week. The company locked out 1,300 workers, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), in August 2011.
In cities across the country this holiday season, theaters will be packed for performances of the Christmas classic ballet, the "Nutcracker Suite"—in many cases performed by dancers of the Musical Artists (AGMA). Symphony halls will be full as orchestra musicians—many who are members of American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM)—fill the air with holiday-themed concerts.
But in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., the home concert halls of Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra will be dark.
Locked-out American Crystal Sugar workers tried to deliver a petition with more than 100,000 signatures urging a resumption of talks to end the 17-month lockout of some 1,300 workers to company executives, shareholders and growers at the firm’s shareholder meeting in Fargo, N.D., Thursday morning. But in a similar response to CEO Dave Berg’s refusal to bargain for a fair contract, Berg and other top company officials refused to meet with the workers.
Alex Ross, The New Yorker’s music critic, has called the Minnesota Orchestra “the greatest orchestra in the world.” On Oct. 1, the orchestra’s management locked out “the greatest orchestra in the world” because the 95 musicians refused to take an up to 50% pay cut.
The growing number of lockouts—where employers close the doors or gates in order to wring concessions out of workers—“represents an overreach on the part of employers,” writes Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson, in an op-ed piece today in the Minneapolis StarTribune.
Since Aug. 1, 2011, 1,300 American Crystal Sugar Co. workers have been locked out of their jobs in five sugar beet processing plants in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa. The locked-out workers are members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM). More than 20 children and grandchildren of the locked-out workers gathered in East Grand Forks, Minn., to write letters to American Crystal Sugar CEO Dave Berg and the board about how the lockout is affecting them, their families and community.
The AFL-CIO has endorsed a nationwide consumer boycott of American Crystal Sugar Co. products starting Oct. 15. The boycott is in response to the company’s 14-month lockout of 1,300 workers at its processing facilities in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa. If the company returns to the bargaining table in good faith and reaches an agreement, the boycott will be called off.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the locked-out workers—members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM)—“are responsible for American Crystal Sugar’s profitability and previously strong reputation.”
The NFL’s lockout of its veteran and trained professional corps of referees is now over after the league and the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) reached a tentative eight-year agreement late Wednesday night. The referees will hold a ratification vote Friday and Saturday. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the end of the lockout means:
A football season, which started in disaster, can now get back on track. Not only toward fairness and integrity for the game, but ensuring the highest level of safety possible for the athletes who play the game.
Ten-year-old Sophia Frank wants American Crystal Sugar CEO Dave Berg and the firm’s board members to stop the 13-month lockout of her father and the more than 1,300 workers because, as she wrote in a letter to company officials:
I'm sorta worried that we're about to run out of food or lose our home because my dad’s out of work for so long.