WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published August 09, 2011, 10:49 PM

Sugarbeet Growers Put Trust In American Crystal Sugar

Almost everyday since the American Crystal Sugar lockout, the nearly 1,300 idled employees have been vocal about rallying for their jobs. Sugarbeet growers, however, have stayed relatively quiet on the lockout so far amidst concern replacement workers at American Crystal Sugar will not be able to handle harvest season.

Almost everyday since the American Crystal Sugar lockout, the nearly 1,300 idled employees have been vocal about rallying for their jobs.

Sugarbeet growers, however, have stayed relatively quiet on the lockout so far amidst concern replacement workers at American Crystal Sugar will not be able to handle harvest season.

No matter how much support they are getting, the American Crystal Sugar employee lockout has been a struggle for idled workers and their families.

"You're kind of strapped. We're barely getting enough left over from our check to put groceries in the fridge," said Brianna McNemar, the wife of an ACS employee. The McNemars are expecting their second child, and life has been tough without insurance and a steady paycheck.

80 union members rallying in East Grand Forks said American Crystal Sugar will have a struggle of its own come harvest season when it's time to turn sugarbeets into sugar.

"There's a lot of equipment in there and they're bringing in people with no experience. If you don't know what you're doing, the potential for danger, injury or death is great," said Melvin Morris, a delegate for the negotiation committee.

Sugarbeet growers said there is only a little concern growing about replacement workers handling harvest season. One grower, who wanted to be kept anonymous told WDAZ, "Certainly there's that concern, but we have to trust management. Union workers would be the best, but we don't have that choice right now."

On the record, the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association executive said management can handle the situation

"I guess from the grower's perspective, at this point, they have a management team in place, and they have every confidence that management has done what they need to do to make sure the beet crop gets processed," said Nick Sinner, Executive Director.

Even though Sinner says replacement workers have had the proper training to get through harvest season. And American Crystal Spokesman Brian Ingulsrud says management has not heard of any concerns among growers, McNemar is not so sure.

"In the background they're going, 'what are we going to do?' They have to keep a straight face especially when that is the stance they've taken," she said.

Tags: