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Published August 22, 2011, 10:08 PM

Neither Side Budging in ACS Contract Dispute

The lockout at American Crystal Sugar is heading into week four. The company says they're not backing down on their final offer and workers say they won't accept it, or anything less.

The lockout at American Crystal Sugar is heading into week four. The company says they're not backing down on their final offer and workers say they won't accept it, or anything less.

As the lockout continues, each side seems to be waiting the other out.

Union members say contract wording needs to be changed before they'll sign.

According to the company, language in the last offer protects union jobs, but locked-out workers disagree.

"If they get rid of the equipment, then of course what would

happen is the worker would then drop to the bottom of the heap as far

as pay, no longer have a job and they'd be at the lowest level," union spokesperson Mark Froemke said.

Workers say, had the company not changed so much at one time, there is a possibility that it wouldn't have been voted down by such a large margin.

"That whole 40-page document, 50-page document was so intertwined that there are so many proposals and so many take-backs within the company's offer, there was just too much for people to take at one time," local union vice president Bradley Nelson said.

They understand inflation issues throughout the country.

"In this day and age, we understand that health care continues to rise, year after year, and we were willing to look at different types of

health care policies," Nelson said.

But the lockout has taken its toll on many workers as some have chosen early retirement.

"Being locked out and being thrown what was called the last and final

offer, was quite stunning to our membership because we actually

thought that we could work out these differences," Froemke said.

Members of the union visited with the Crookston City Council today to ask for a letter to both the company and the union for support of an agreement. The council says it will consider it.

Both the union and the company have received letters from the East Grand Forks council, Grand Forks City Council President Hal Gershman and Vice President Elliot Glassheim.

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