Because of American Crystal Sugar’s continued refusal to end its 14-month lockout of more than 1,300 workers and return to the bargaining table, working families across the country today launched a boycott against American Crystal Sugar (ACS) products. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says:
Making record profits while giving working families and communities the shaft is just plain wrong.
Despite record profits for ACS last year—including giving $2.4 million in compensation to CEO David Berg—the company's board demanded cuts to workers' health care coverage and elimination of seniority rights. Says Trumka:
Workers want to rejoin the ACS family, but shouldn’t be expected to give up their voice on the job.
The workers at the American Crystal Sugar facilities in Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota are members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers ( BCTGM ). Many of these workers have been with ACS for decades and helped build the company to be a leader in the industry.
While the workers have been without income or health care since the lockout began in August 2011, Berg has enjoyed the 50% pay raise he granted himself. Last month, children and grandchildren of the workers sent letters to Berg telling him how their families and communities are hurting because of the boycott. Ten-year-old Sophia Frank wrote:
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.
Trumka says, “The greed of Berg and ACS board members is taking an economic toll on communities across the Midwest.”
Sugar beet farmers are being forced to “turn under” their crops and are seeing significantly lower payments for their beets compared with what they get from other sugar producers. Small businesses are losing revenue because workers and their families can’t spend like they did before the lockout.
Corporate greed isn’t sweet no matter how many spoons of sugar you take with it.