American Crystal Sugar employees picket after being escorted outsideMoorhead, Minn. (WDAY TV) - American Crystal Sugar employees are officially locked out this morning after company officials and the union failed to reach a contract deal. Workers immediately started picketing after being escorted outside. Reporter Bill Schammert was at the Moorhead facility when the line was officially drawn and brings us this story.
Shortly after 11 Sunday night, Union Workers at American Crystal were escorted out of the plant and officially locked out.
Bev Lund-Schmidt – Wants Fair Contract: “I can't believe this, I've worked here for 23 years. Started at the bottom, worked my way up to a tech-2 position. Now I'm standing on the street, I don't have a job.”
Many who crossed the gate for a final time, immediately parked there cars and began to picket.
Greg Wahl – Worked at ACSC for 35 Years: “I'm just discouraged, it doesn't have to be this way. I'm just out here to show support for my brothers and sisters.”
Picketers say they plan to protest 24-7 until they get a fair contract. What that means is that they will protest in front of all six gates, all day, every day.
Tony St. Michel – Union Representative: “Prepared to stay out here until we get a contract. We can't go to work under what they offered us.”
Officials with American Crystal believe many Union Workers were mis-informed when they voted 96-percent to deny the contract offer. They say there is no loss of job security and the much debated health benefits are fair.
Now 13-hundred replacement workers are taking their jobs. Those replacement workers have been shadowing the union employees for the last few weeks.
St. Michel: “There's a lot of animosity, I mean how would you feel if there was someone coming in to take your job.”
For now, the line has been drawn. How long it will stay there. Nobody knows. American Crystal says they have absolutely no plans of negotiating any further.