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Published September 18, 2012, 09:50 AM

Locked-out North Dakota workers seeking jobless benefits

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Supreme Court is considering whether state law allows locked-out American Crystal Sugar Co. workers to be paid jobless benefits.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Supreme Court is considering whether state law allows locked-out American Crystal Sugar Co. workers to be paid jobless benefits.

Attorneys for the company and more than 230 workers argued the issue Tuesday. The high court will decide the question later.

Fargo attorney Dan Phillips represents the sugar workers. They've been locked out of their jobs since August of 2011.

North Dakota law says unemployment benefits shouldn't be paid in labor disputes. But Phillips says the language refers to strikes. He says it shouldn't be applied when a company locks out its employees and hires temporary replacements.

American Crystal lawyer Paul Zech says the Legislature hasn't declared that locked-out workers should get jobless benefits. Zech says that's in keeping with state policy to stay neutral in labor disputes.

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