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Published August 04, 2011, 09:59 PM

No Visible Progress in American Crystal Lockout as it Turns Five Days Old

Friday is day five of the American Crystal Sugar Company lockout and union employees say they've heard nothing from the company about ending the lockout.

Friday is day five of the American Crystal Sugar Company lockout and union employees say they've heard nothing from the company about ending the lockout.

Union members in Crookston say they have their negotiator ready as soon as the company is ready to sit down for talks again.

Thursday's paycheck was the last until the lockout ends for more than 1,300 union workers.

"We've applied for unemployment, I've had computers up here now since Monday morning, helping people apply for unemployment if they haven't been able to do it on their own," union representative Dan Kressin said.

Employees say they don't have much choice because they don't know how long the lockout will continue.

"This is definitely my bread and butter. It seems like they've been getting ready for this for a long time. It's been a different year," 32-year employee Bruce Columbus said.

And at a smaller plant like the one in Crookston, it hasn't been easy to be on the outside, looking in.

"It's strange. In fact most of the people inside there are good friends of mine, as far as management. I've been with them for a long, long time. They've been good to me, it's a good place to work," Columbus said.

Although workers are there to support each other, Kressin describes the mood as unsettled.

"Tempers are short right now with some people and everybody's anxious and nervous," Kressin said.

Nervous about what comes next in the contract controversy.

"The best way for me to explain it is, if its that great of a deal, why did we have 97% of our membership show up and 96% shoot it down? We're disappointed, I mean we've done an exceptional job for this company and for them to just turn their backs on us, it's a slap in the face," Kressin said.

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