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Published January 31, 2012, 05:16 PM

6 Months Into Lockout, ACS Rejects Latest Union Offer

(WDAZ-TV) - Nearly six months into American Crystal Sugar's union employee lock-out, the two sides are no closer to a deal.

(WDAZ-TV) - Nearly six months into American Crystal Sugar's union employee lock-out, the two sides are no closer to a deal.

Locked-out workers and the company met with a federal mediator on Monday which led to no new negotiations.

It's been a long six months for locked-out employees.

"There's nothing we can do about it except try and try and try," Union member and negotiation delegate Mel Morris said.

The union requested a negotiation session with American Crystal executives in hopes that the lockout and their days of picketing would come to an end.

"We'll keep trying but there's two sides to every negotiation," Morris said.

Company leaders say the proposal did not address key issues they've talked about.

"One of the very big ones is being able to promote the most qualified employees versus just simply the most senior employees and so far none of the proposals that have been put forward by the union have addressed that issue," American Crystal Vice President for Administration Brian Ingulsrud said.

Many locked-out workers say there are only so many adjustments they can make.

"People that work in the factories make a quality product because they have the knowledge of those factories. The company wants to be able to bring people off the streets in those positions. That puts the quality of the product, the profitability and sugar program at risk," Morris said.

Both the company and locked-out workers say they are willing to go back to the negotiating table. But both sides have issues they want addressed.

"We need to have an agreement that does protect the company well in to the future and without that agreement we just simply can't end the lockout," Ingulsrud said.

"The company left the room very abruptly yesterday. We told the mediators we would discuss with the company setting up future negotiations. We're willing to try to workout and end the lock-out," Morris said.

Locked-out workers plan on having a "Return To Work Day" Wednesday morning to show the company they are ready to get back.

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