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Published August 24, 2011, 09:51 PM

American Crystal Workers eager to get back to negotiation table

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - After weeks of waiting, American Crystal Sugar and union leaders will soon be back at the bargaining table. The company and union leaders plan to meet tomorrow sometime at an undisclosed location to begin more talks.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

American Crystal workers have been locked out since August 1st, 24 days. On Tuesday, there was no end in sight. Now, just one day later, with a meeting just hours away, union members hope the end is near.

On a busy stretch of street, outside American Crystal Sugar, you'll find longtime employee Wayne Jacobson. The Moorhead man, begging for his job back. A fair contract.

Wayne Jacobson – Union Worker: “Crystal's being a big bully on the block.”

Jacobson is one of the 1,300 locked out workers. He's been picketing, hoping for progress since negotiations stalled in July.

Wayne Jacobson: “The union's always been ready to talk the whole time.”

Tomorrow, union leaders will get that chance, when talks resume. Jacobson is just learning the news.

Wayne Jacobson: “It's a give and take situation.”

Sam Mikkelson – Union Worker: “I hope I get my job back. I hope I can get back to work soon.”

Union leaders tell WDAY 6 News they have new proposals and everything is up for grabs. They want both sides to come with the right attitude to reach agreement. Still, the unemployed protestors are pessimistic.

Sam Mikkelson: “Not really much probably going to happen, because it's a mediator. Neither the union or the company called the meeting so neither of them probably want to have it.”

Some believe this has been the company's plan all along.

Wayne Jacobson: “I can't guess their strategy but probably.”

Hold out until harvest so the union bends.

Wayne Jacobson: “When the beets start coming in, we have to be ready and right now, we're not ready.”

American Crystal leaders declined to comment, saying the federal mediator told them not to. Our calls to that mediator were not returned. We'll follow the talks and have the latest.

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