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Published December 06, 2012, 05:52 PM

Crystal Sugar officials say it was a good year despite the lockout

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Profits for American Crystal Sugar this year, are down more than 30-percent. At its annual shareholders meeting today, the company said it was still a good year, despite the on-going lockout.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Profits for American Crystal Sugar this year, are down more than 30-percent. At its annual shareholders meeting today, the company said it was still a good year, despite the on-going lockout.

American Crystal Sugar officials are optimistic despite a 32% drop in profits this year. They say lockout costs, a small crop, and a warm winter contributed to the drop from last year's record profits, but it was still a very good year.

David Berg/President, CEO: "Still the second highest beet payment in the history of this company. So, it certainly was not a failure. It was a challenging year, but it was not a failure."

Officials say the impact of the 16-month lockout has been rapidly diminishing. They've trained in 1,000 new employees, and cost of labor is declining. But for locked-out workers and supporters, the outlook isn't as rosy.

They met before the shareholders meeting to talk about the impact the dispute is having on the community.

Heidi Durand/Moorhead City Council: "I'm worried, I'm nervous about the strain on relationships in the community."

Supporters say the company is no longer coming to the table for negotiations.

Diane Wray Williams/Moorhead: "Frankly, it's making me question my Midwestern values. In my view, we come to the table to discuss these things."

But CEO David Berg says the company is just trying to stay profitable for years to come.

Berg: "If they don't think we're coming to the table I think we're just trying to make the business last for the next five years and the next ten years."

The workers tried to deliver a petition to the shareholders meeting, but were barred from entering. CEO David Berg says it was a busy morning and they were concerned about interrupting the meetings.

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