This August, American Crystal Sugar locked out over 1,300 workers in Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota. As worker Cindy Kolling explained in Ag Week, American Crystal’s actions have been motivated by a desire to break the employees’ union. To avoid providing workers with a fair deal, the company has risked this year’s harvest by bringing in unskilled replacement workers to perform the complicated tasks required to turn sugar beets into sugar.
Safety has also been a concern. From the beginning, American Crystal’s locked-out workers, who are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), have warned that untrained and inexperienced workers were putting themselves and others at risk. Unfortunately, those concerns were realized last week, as fires broke out at two American Crystal facilities. As BCTGM Local 167G President John Riskey stated, “By using poorly trained replacement workers from outside the region, American Crystal Sugar is gambling both with safety and the economic success of this year’s harvest.”
American Crystal’s destructive lockout is not only hurting the company, it’s also harming the local communities that depend on consumer spending from the plant’s employees to power their economies.
But the locked-out workers are fighting back. Blending time-tested methods with 21st century technology, BCTGM workers are distributing fliers with a QR (Quick Response) code at stores and events (including the Minnesota Vikings home opener) in eight states from North Dakota to Texas. The QR code (similar to a barcode) can be scanned easily by a smartphone, directing the user to the campaign website, where more information on the lockout and American Crystal’s harmful policies is available. The activated QR code will also allow the viewer to watch the campaign video, which explains how American Crystal Sugar is killing the American Dream.
The latest technology plus the determination and unity of the locked-out workers? Sounds like a winning recipe to us.
To show your support for the locked-out workers at American Crystal Sugar, click here.