Around MN: American Crystal workers brace for lockout


A union representing 1,300 workers at American Crystal Sugar in East Grand Forks has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging the company is breaking the law by not negotiating in good faith.

If the union and the company fail to reach an agreement by Aug. 1, the workers will be locked out of American Crystal factories in East Grand Forks, Crookston, Drayton, Hillsboro and Moorehead. WDAZ reports those workers have been “asked to clear out their personal belongings and prepare” for a lockout weeks before the typical harvest season would begin.

Company spokespeople have remained mum about negotiation details, but John Riskey has president of the local union tells reporters that American Crystal wants to undo provisions of the collective bargaining agreement that would allow jobs to be outsourced and other nonstarters for the union.

Locking out the locals means the company will bring in outsiders.

“To take our places and push out the people who have given their lives to the company. That money that is given to those people who come in and do that work, it’s not going to stay in the community, it’s not going to pay the taxes we do,” Riskey said.

The union points to big increases in what are already six-figure salaries for top Crystal managers as a sign that the company is making money. (WDAZ)

The Crookston Times spoke with Brian Ingulsrud, Senior VP of administration at American Crystal, on the phone. Ingulsrud told the paper 1,000 of the workers are year-round employees the additional 350 workers are temporary workers that are brought on during the annual sugar beet processing campaign.

Also on MN Today

Al Franken clashes with Focus on the Family executive

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) took on a Focus on the Family executive at hearing on same-sex marriage Wednesday, challenging the validity of the witness’ testimony.

“I frankly don’t really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies these ways,” Franken told Thomas Minnery of Focus on the Family, the conservative Colorado-based group that opposes same-sex marriage (Politico).

Duluth needs to cut $1.2 Million from budget

The City of Duluth will have to make another $1.2 million in cuts from this year’s budget, after lawmakers in St. Paul decided to cut Local Government Aid up to 12 percent for Minnesota cities (Northland News Center).

MPR’s Ground Level has the details on LGA challenges facing additional cities.

Opposed to unopposed

Yesterday we blogged about the popular Duluth Mayor Don Ness’ apparently smooth ride to reelection. He’s unopposed. It’s pretty remarkable for a city that size not to have a contested election. But not as remarkable as The Northland News Center’s Kevin Jacobs reports.

Mayor Ness is the first mayor in the city’s history to run unopposed.

We linked to a Tweet from Jacobs, but not his report. A Perfect Duluth Day pounced and unleashed the librarians.

We are opposed to the notion that you are the first to be unopposed, Mr. Ness At least one news organization reported yesterday that Mayor Don Ness is the first Duluth mayor to be unopposed in an election. Well, it’s not true. …

Maryanne Norton at the Duluth Public Library has found three Duluth mayors in the 1800s who were unopposed.

Sidney Luce was elected unopposed in 1872 and served one term.

Dr. Vespasian Smith was elected twice with no opposition — in 1873 and 1874. (Mayors served one-year terms until 1913, when the current four-year system began.)

Horace B. Moore was elected unopposed in 1885 and served one term.

So, it’s still a pretty big deal that Ness is running unopposed, but just not as big as some might have you believe.

Minnesota Scenes

St. Paul Cathedral by Josh Ebbers

St. Paul Cathedral

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