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Published April 04, 2012, 06:12 PM

EGF Council Members Want Public Meeting With Crystal Execs

EAST GRAND FORKS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Some East Grand Forks City Council members would like to have a word with American Crystal Sugar executives. They want to talk to the execs at a public meeting.

By: Stacie Van Dyke, WDAZ

EAST GRAND FORKS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Some East Grand Forks City Council members would like to have a word with American Crystal Sugar executives.

They want to talk to the execs at a public meeting.

American Crystal executives speaking publicly with the entire City Council has been standard practice since 2008. But now it has been almost a year since they've come to a meeting.

"We're all concerned with the sugar program, the lockout. We would like this settled," Council member Mike Pokrzywinski said.

Some believe the return of public meetings could help settle the dispute or at least couldn't hurt.

"If by me speaking out, we put a little pressure on American Crystal and the union to get back and settle this then, I'm under no illusion that that's going to make any much of a difference, but at least I will have said something," Pokrzywinski said.

Though not publicly, Crystal Sugar execs responded on Tuesday. Pokrzywinski, along with other Red River Valley leaders, received an email update on a variety of topics. It says crystal sugar is still committed to an agreement, but the focus is on efficient operation of the business.

"They have chosen not to make an effort to end this lockout in a fair manner, in my opinion," Union representative Mark Froemke said.

The email also says the Crystal Company's final offer is still on the table.

"Crystal doesn't want to talk to us, they don't want to negotiate," locked-out worker Dave Gilldland said.

"Any kind of communication they could get going that may initiate the negotiating process would be helpful," locked-out worker Dave Villarreal said.

9 months ago, about 200 workers were engaged in lockout activities like picketing in East Grand Forks, but they're now down at least 30 members. On Tuesday, there were only 2.

"There's obviously people that have found work and moved on," Froemke said.

The email from Crystal Sugar also says the company has filled more than half of its open positions and is still hiring local, full-time employees for a limited time.

Calls to American Crystal Sugar executives were not returned on Wednesday.

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