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Published October 26, 2011, 10:11 PM

Union Sets Date For Vote On Revised Contract

Workers at the five American Crystal Sugar processing plants up and down the valley will vote soon on an amended contract offer. That vote will take place on November 1st, just 90 days after the workers were first locked out.

Workers at the five American Crystal Sugar processing plants up and down the valley will vote soon on an amended contract offer. That vote will take place on November 1st, just 90 days after the workers were first locked out. And that vote will let the company know if the changes were enough.

"Most of the people I've talked to so far are not impressed with the changed offer. They feel it's the same as the last offer and most of them don't even think we need to vote," locked out union member Scott Ripplinger said.

The new offer from American Crystal contains revised language to guarantee that no employee or position will be eliminated because of sub-contracting.

"There are many other articles that need to be changed, from how year round status is attained, how year round status is kept, how you bid on jobs, how you're awarded jobs. There's just so many changes that all have to be corrected," Ripplinger said.

The revised company offer also delays by a year the transition from the union's current health plan to one that will require the workers to share the cost.

"They also have a clause in the contract that it might change from time to time. Which means before the ink is dry in the contract, they could raise the monthly premiums, they could raise the deductibles, they could change the coverage," Ripplinger added.

"The workers that I've talked to and voting union members, no Crystal Sugar fell short on meeting the needs and expectations of the workers who have been locked out now, getting close to 90 days. And actually, on November 1 will be 90 days," union representative Mark Froemke said.

And each and every union member will have the opportunity to express their feelings at 1:00 p.m. on November 1st. The local union will meet, discuss the entire contract, weigh the pros and cons and then cast a secret ballot.

"It's up to us and how we want to vote. Nobody tells us how to vote. You know, it's a democratic society, whether it's a union or whether it's voting for who's going to be governor or president of the United States," Ripplinger said.

Union representatives say they brought 20 different proposals to the negotiation table that would have meant significant cost savings for the company.

Brian Inglusrud with American Crystal said in a company press release that the new offer is a fair agreement.

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