WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 23, 2012, 08:53 PM

American Crystal Sugar workers reject contract for third time

(WDAY TV) -- Locked- out American Crystal Sugar employees are standing strong.

By: Melanie Orlins, WDAZ, WDAY

(WDAY TV) -- Locked- out American Crystal Sugar employees are standing strong.

For the third time, union workers voted to reject a 5-year contract offered by the company. 82 percent of the union from up and down the Red River Valley voiced their opinion -- and 63 percent rejected it. The reason--they say it's still not fair.

Moments ago union executives came out of this office behind me in Grand Forks and announced voters had turned down the contract. Workers have already been locked out for nearly 11-months and after this decision today, it doesn't seem like that will end anytime soon.

John Riskey/Union President: "Ball's in their court now. We've rejected it twice, it's time for them to come to the table and cooperate and negotiate."

But as they've been told before--the company says it's already laid out it's *last and final offer*. However, Union execs still have faith.

Riskey: "Hopefully we can get then back to the table and hopefully we can get them to cooperate."

Locked out workers had mixed feelings as they casted votes.

Some wanted to express their views and others felt there was no need to vote until the company comes up with a more appealing proposal.

Mark Froemke/Union Executive: "A fair contract with dignity is more important--our members said today than the individual pain that has been suffered on their family."

And the pain for union workers continues to grow, as the lock out nears the one year mark.

David Wasylow/locked out worker: "There's a lot of sleepless nights involved and you know you lie awake at night thinking what did you do wrong that you're not a good employer anymore?"

Froemke: "The biggest thing for me is that the membership had their say, they spoke."

Now from here on, union executives will regroup and discuss what needs to happen in the upcoming weeks so they can hold another vote and get back to work. We'll continue to follow this story as it develops.

Union executives will be contacting the company's federal mediator within the next week.