Locked-Out Workers Reach Halfway Mark of Weeklong JourneyEAST GRAND FORKS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Locked out American Crystal Sugar workers from up and down the Red River Valley are in the midst of a seven day journey from Drayton to Moorhead.
EAST GRAND FORKS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Locked out American Crystal Sugar workers from up and down the Red River Valley are in the midst of a seven day journey from Drayton to Moorhead. Union members and their supporters are on a "Caravan for Cooperation and Negotiation," stopping in towns to draw attention to the lockout and its impact on communities.
On a typical day locked out workers at the East Grand Forks American Crystal Sugar plant are outside the plant spreading their message to cars that drive by. But on Sunday they took their message on the road as they continue their caravan from East Grand Forks to Crookston.
"We want to put the message out that we haven't went anywhere and we want to get back to work and we want to negotiate and settle a fair contract," David Wasylow, a locked-out union member in East Grand Forks, said.
The 200 mile trek from Drayton to Moorhead has locked out workers visiting seven towns. They're halfway through the journey and say communities have shown them tremendous support.
"Every place we've stopped at we've had people come up and talk to us and they really want this resolved. They tell us how their communities are hurting," BCTGM Local 167G President John Riskey said.
Workers say this journey also gives them a chance to share their personal stories of how the lockout has impacted them.
"I think it's more of a mental affect, worse than anything. The sleepless nights, you know, the unknown. What's going to happen in the future and which way do I go?" Wasylow explained.
The union says it will bring a new set of contract proposals to the next negotiation. They hope company executives are willing to negotiate.
"It's definitely a step in the right direction. If Crystal Sugar wants to be profitable again it's going to be hard for them to turn down this offer," Riskey said.
The lockout is now past the 10 month mark, and workers say they just want cooperation next week so they can get back to work.
The caravan will reach Moorhead June 6. Negotiations between the union and American Crystal executives resume June 8. The company has said they won't budge from the contract offer it's had on the table since last fall.