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Published January 02, 2012, 08:52 PM

Locked-Out American Crystal Sugar Workers Have High Hopes For 2012

Locked-out workers are beginning 2012 the same way they ended 2011, walking the picket lines. More than 5 months after the company locked them out in a contract dispute, workers are hoping to get their jobs back in 2012.

Locked-out workers are beginning 2012 the same way they ended 2011, walking the picket lines.

More than 5 months after the company locked them out in a contract dispute, workers are hoping to get their jobs back in 2012.

Workers say they had their hopes up after a meeting with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton last month, but at this point still haven't heard anything from company executives about their jobs.

Colder temperatures aren't stopping locked out workers from picketing.

"I think we're still strong, still hanging together, union people are really tough." locked-out worker Richard Larson said.

It's been a long 5 months for workers and some, like Richard Larson and Mel Morris, have started looking for other jobs, but the search is hard.

"A lot of people know that you're locked out so it's kind of tough because they know you could go back to work at a future date, within a month or so. So they don't really want to hire you that much." Larson said.

"They don't want somebody part time, they want permanent employees. They want somebody to commit, they give you a job you're going to stay." locked-out worker Mel Morris said.

Larson worries about the future, but after working for ACS for nearly 37 years, he's looking toward retirement. He's more worried about younger employees.

"I'm contemplating retiring in the next few months, maybe getting a steady job until my pension and so I can get social security. So I think I'll be doing o.k." Larson said.

Workers and American Crystal Sugar executives met with Governor Mark Dayton last month, a meeting that workers hoped would lead to renewed negotiations with the company.

"The sooner the better, get everybody back to work, doing their jobs and try to get this behind us. But it's going to take a long road because it's been tough on everybody and there's been bad feelings built up because of it on both sides," Morris said.

Workers say they will continue picketing for as long as it takes...

And some of them say they think there will be a meeting this month with American Crystal Executives.

Calls made to American Crystal Sugar were not returned.

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