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WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 05, 2012, 09:30 PM

Minnesota man makes a donation to keep Crystal workers warm outdoors

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) -- Many locked out American Crystal workers spend hours outside sugar plants, picketing. An Effie, Minnesota man is making a donation to union workers to make sure they stay warm.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ, WDAY

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) -- Many locked out American Crystal workers spend hours outside sugar plants, picketing. An Effie Minnesota man is making a donation to union workers to make sure they stay warm.

These small wood stoves are what keeps locked out picketing union workers warm.

Ken Lamberson: "We had that stretch of zero degrees outside and it don't take long to burn through the firewood."

Lamberson says they ran out of firewood two weeks ago at the East Grand Forks site. Now burning whatever they can find, this morning it was lumber scraps.

This is where John Ostendorf comes in. He learned of the lockout from his son who is also a union member and works at a flour mill in Southern Minnesota.

Ostendorf: "Kept me informed of what is happening here. We just felt our show of support for the workers that we would bring some firewood."

Ostendorf delivered the equivalent of ten cords worth of wood. He says this seemed like a natural way to help being he makes his living transporting trees for logging companies in North Eastern Minnesota.

John Riskey / Local Union President : "It goes to show how people want to help the smaller guy out."

Lamberson: "What ever anybody can do. No matter how big or small it helps us in the long run to continue this fight."

Locked out workers spent the day cutting up and splitting the wood to be used outside in stoves at American Crystal's five sugar beet plants.

John Ostendorf: "Lost 1,300 jobs. How do you replace them. How do you keep your household. And that is why we are in support of this."

The trees cost about 500 dollars, that doesn't include transportation costs. But it's a small price to keep union workers warm during this drawn out labor dispute.

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