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Published August 24, 2011, 03:31 PM

Union and American Crystal Back to Negotiating Table Thursday

Talks will resume Thursday between American Crystal Sugar and union workers on day 25 of the company lockout. A union representative said union and company officials will meet with the federal mediator assigned to the case.

Talks will resume Thursday between American Crystal Sugar and union workers on day 25 of the company lockout.

A union representative said union and company officials will meet with the federal mediator assigned to the case.

American Crystal Sugar's board of directors met Wednesday at the Alerus Center and workers from up and down the valley were there hoping to speak to some of the American Crystal Sugar board members.

It's unclear if the decision to meet was made at Wednesday's board meeting, but regardless, workers say this has gone on long enough.

The union representative declined to disclose the location and time of the meeting.

American Crystal President and CEO Dave Berg received a letter from Frank Hurt, the international president of the union, asking Berg to immediately end the company's strike against the workers and meet with their union representative to negotiate in good faith.

The company has also announced to its shareholders that they'll start per-pile harvest on September 6 in all five of its factories.

Workers were locked out of facilities Aug. 1 in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa after the union's contract expired the night before and workers rejected the company's offer.

American Crystal Sugar is the largest beet sugar processor in the U.S. It had offered a 17 percent pay increase over five years during negotiations that began May 6, but workers were upset about provisions covering job security and health care costs.

There was no comment from American Crystal.

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