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Published May 31, 2012, 05:52 PM

Locked-out Workers Start Journey for 'Cooperation and Negotiation'

DRAYTON, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Locked-out American Crystal Sugar Workers and their supporters met in Drayton on Thursday, kicking off a six-day journey to Moorhead.

DRAYTON, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Locked-out American Crystal Sugar Workers and their supporters met in Drayton on Thursday, kicking off a six-day journey to Moorhead.

They want to raise awareness in communities along the way and show company executives that locked-out workers are ready for negotiations.

More than two dozen people met at City Park in Drayton, singing, praying and starting their journey for "Cooperation and Negotiation."

After nearly 11 months of being locked-out by American Crystal Sugar, union workers are taking to the streets.

"It's a way to show we're still working and fighting for this and the other thing is to get out in the communities," local union representative John Riskey said.

"For me it is bringing hope that genuine good faith negotiations will take place," North Dakota AFL-CIO President Gary Granzotto said.

Whether it's by horseback, by wagon or just walking, the more than 200-mile journey will bring locked-out workers as well as supporters from Drayton, all the way to Moorhead.

"It should look like we're serious, we want our jobs back and it's time for them to be serious and start doing something," locked-out worker Becki Jacobson said.

Those taking part in the Minnesota AFL-CIO organized "Caravan For Cooperation and Negotiation" will stop in towns along the way, speaking with people about where they stand. Supporters are happy they can help spread the word.

"I just figured it would be good to get people informed and figure out what's going on and figured, you know, I may not be a union worker but whatever I can do to help and they need to go back to work," union supporter Sunny Conner said.

This may be a long journey for those involved, but most locked-out workers say it is well worth it if they can get their jobs back.

"It's the time to end the hurt in the communities that's going on is one of the main goals," Riskey said.

"I share the pain that these folks have been enduring. I share the pain," Granzotto said.

Those traveling in the caravan will reach Moorhead on June 6. Locked-out workers will sit down with executives on June 8 at an undisclosed location.

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