Must be American Crystal Sugar Company workers don't think much of the Obamacare that Richard Trumka and his 50 or so cronies on the AFL-CIO's Executive Council shoved down our throats in order to protect Barack Obama's worthless political butt.
Maybe union leaders should have called for a vote to see how many members support Obamacare.
Why haven't union leaders raised the issue of the need for legislation prohibiting employer lockouts and anti-scabbing legislation?
What is the role of left wing organizations and left wing publications in bringing forward plant occupations as an alternative to management lockouts?
Instead of distributing tens of thousands of Obama caps, copies of George Lakoff's two books--- "Don't think of an elephant!" and "The Little Blue Book; The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic;" union leaders should have distributed copies of Gus Halls book, "Working Class U.S.A.; The Power and The Movement" calling specific attention to the sections on "class collaboration."
Crystal Sugar workers reject contract again
American Crystal Sugar workers vote today on contract
TERMS OF THE OFFER
Comments from readers of these stories posted on the Minneapolis Star Tribune's website... one can readily see the union leadership hasn't even prepared the membership to participate in the on-line battle of ideas from a class conscious position:
My blog post...
Here is one thing I find really interesting... the leaders of the AFL-CIO which include the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International union told the rest of us how great Obamacare will be for us but they aren't willing to accept the terms of Obamacare for their own members.
This is from the Associated Press today:
"Contract opponents say the sugar beet processor's five-year contract offer would cut health care benefits and weaken job security and seniority protections..."
No one should find it strange that the betrayal of the AFL-CIO's executive council on health care in undermining the movement for single-payer universal health care in order to protect Barack Obama's worthless political butt should be anything other than a betrayal of the 1,300 American Crystal Worker Company's workers, too.
This is where class collaboration leads--- first we get union leaders like Richard Trumka supporting AIPAC and the Israeli killing machine, then we get Trumka and his 50 or so cronies on the AFL-CIO Executive Council supporting Wall Street's Barack Obama, then we get these same union leaders ordering American Crystal Sugar workers to leave the plants as management orders instead of occupying the plants to prevent a lockout; then these union leaders tell workers they should re-elect Obama will solve their problems and now these same union leaders proclaim a "boycott" with no support for the boycott except press conferences.
Why aren't the leaders comprising the AFL-CIO Executive Council putting the same effort into organizing an American Crystal Sugar Company boycott that they put into re-electing Barack Obama who brought us Obamacare and now they won't accept this same Obamacare for their own members?
Kind of like these same 50-plus "leaders" sitting on the AFL-CIO Executive Council headed up by Richard Trumka are willing to accept such miserly poverty minimum wage for tens of millions of non-union members without so much as consulting the workers who are then saddled with this poverty minimum wage.
Class collaboration paves the road straight to hell for the working class and this American Crystal Sugar Company lockout should teach every worker in this country this lesson.
Crystal Sugar workers reject contract 4th time
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Their ranks thinned by a 16-month lockout, American Crystal Sugar Co. workers on Saturday rejected a contract for the fourth time.
Leaders of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International union said in a news release that the workers voted 55 percent to reject management's contract offer.
"By now it should be clear that (company CEO) Dave Berg and Crystal Sugar's management team has no interest in ending a fiscally irresponsible lockout that has been disastrous to farm shareholders, put the federal sugar program in jeopardy, and hurt countless families in the Red River Valley," said John Riskey, the head of a union local that represents employees at three American Crystal factories.
"It's time for shareholders to reclaim their company and send management back to the table for real give-and-take negotiations," he said in the release.
He told The Associated Press later on the phone Saturday that union leaders will be following up with workers on how to deal with the contract issues from this point. He said no plans have been made for another meeting.
Company officials said in a statement Saturday after learning about the workers' vote that the package is "solid and generous" and "similar to what we are offering our current employees."
"We're finding the pay and benefits included in it are attracting high quality area workers who are now creating a productive and successful new workforce for our Company," the statement said.
"The Company continues to move forward and focus on running our business, processing beets and delivering sugar to our customers."
The lockout began in Aug. 1, 2011, and affected about 1,300 workers at plants in Drayton and Hillsboro, N.D., and Minnesota factories in Moorhead, Crookston and East Grand Forks. More than 500 of those workers have since left, said Brian Ingulsrud, an American Crystal vice president.
The company has used replacement workers to continue operating the plants.
Moorhead, Minn.-based American Crystal is a cooperative owned by about 2,800 sugar beet growers. It is the nation's largest sugar beet processor, selling 90 percent of its production to industrial customers, including candy makers, bakeries and breakfast cereal makers.
The lockout began after 96 percent of the workers voting on the company's contract proposal rejected the offer on July 31, 2011. In subsequent ballots, 90 percent of the voting workers turned down the proposal in November 2011, and 63 percent rejected it in June.
In October, the AFL-CIO called for a boycott of Crystal's products. Some of the company's sugar is sold in grocery stores under Crystal's own label. It is sold as "Market Pantry" sugar in Target Corp. stores in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
From my FaceBook post:
This article presents many sides and views on the American Crystal Sugar Company's lockout of 1,300 workers here in the Red River Valley which includes plants and workers in Minnesota and North Dakota.
Many views and issues except for one important view that was advocated by a group of rank-and-file workers three months before the lockout took place after American Crystal Sugar Company's management stated in no uncertain terms that if their "final offer" was not accepted there would be a lockout.
The view never mentioned in this article or any other article including in the left wing press (as dysfunctional as most of the left wing press is mired in class collaboration and support for the Wall Street imperialist Obama) is that workers should have stayed put and refused to leave these plants as both management and the union "leaders" demanded of them. These plants should have been occupied.
The AFL-CIO has "called for" a boycott Richard Trumka never intended to allocate the required resources to organize in a show of "militancy" when united militancy should have taken place as direct action in the workplace by workers occupying these plants.
I find it very interesting the University Professor Peter Rachleff always manages to evade discussing worker initiatives prior to workers suffering major setbacks then he brings forward his "analysis" which always leaves out what the correct course of action should have been. I guess this helps a university professor keep his very lucrative, high-paying job.
Anyways, here is the Forum article that, for a Republican/big-agribusiness rag, isn't all that bad--- far better than what I have read from the Obama supporting union papers and left wing Obama supporting newspapers:
Rank-and-file workers at this point would be foolish if they vote not to accept this "final offer" because, lacking their own initiatives that their union leadership will never take, they are doomed.
This defeat for working people should be studied very closely because employers with the support from both Democrats and Republicans who definitely will not be bringing anti-scab legislation to the table any more than Barack Obama can be expected to "put on his marching shoes."
in fact, the only reason Richard Trumka even voiced support for an American Crystal Sugar boycott was because so many workers across the Midwest were about to tell the Democrats to take a hike. We have seen Trumka never intended to organize any kind of boycott; he used talk of a boycott to get fed up union members involved in campaigning for Obama and the Democrats under the guise that "once Obama is re-elected we will get down to organizing a boycott of American Crystal Sugar Company." All talk; no action.
Published November 30, 2012, 11:30 PM
Union's vote today could end American Crystal lockout‘No’ vote means continuation of 16-month lockout, hardships
MOORHEAD – Locked-out American Crystal Sugar workers have another chance to say “yes” or “no” to a contract today, but they are again facing a choice they rejected more than a year ago. By: Christopher Bjorke, Forum Communications, INFORUM
MOORHEAD - Locked-out American Crystal Sugar workers have another chance to say "yes" or "no" to a contract Saturday but they are again facing a choice they rejected more than a year ago.
A yes vote means a contract that is mostly unchanged from what they have already rejected and that could lessen their power as a union.
A no vote means a continuation of the 16-month lockout and its financial hardships.
“They’re in a real tough position,” said Bruce Byars, an associate professor in UND’s College of Business and Public Administration.
The Bakery Workers union members plan to vote today for the fourth time on the contract they rejected in July 2011 and in two later votes. Results of the vote - which will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Fargo-Moorhead - are expected to be disclosed this evening, a union official said Friday.
There has been little changed in the two sides of the stalemate since the last vote.
Byars said the company’s contract proposal “effectively ends the union’s security.” But with a second sugar beet harvest now complete and no indication that management would change its position, the union lacks new leverage to apply to lockout.
“If there’s a no vote, we’re pretty much going to stay where we’re at,” he said. “At this point, American Crystal Sugar would seem to have no reason to end the lockout.”
Peter Rachleff, a history professor and labor researcher at Macalester College in St. Paul, said the management’s contract was asking the workers to give management more power over workers’ job security without checks on how they could use it.
“There is no employment security in the new contract,” he said. “Would you hand management a loaded gun and trust them not to use it?”
John Riskey, head of Local 167G representing employees at Crystal factories in East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Drayton, N.D., said workers would be voting on the contract as well as a draft return-to-work agreement if the contract is accepted.
Riskey did not want to discuss the implications of the new vote or negotiations leading up to it, saying he just wanted voters to evaluate the offer themselves.
“All we can do is explain what we have to the best of our ability and let them decide from there,” he said.
The union had about 1,300 members when the lockout began. Riskey said he did not know how many would vote this time. When workers voted in June, union leaders said 82 percent of members participated.
“It depends on how many members show up,” Riskey said, noting that the union had lost members to retirement and other employment.
The percentage of union members rejecting Crystal's offer has been shrinking. They've voted three times. Ninety-six percent rejected it in July 2011. Three months later, it was 90 percent against. After waiting about eight months before holding another vote, 63 percent of union voters were opposed to the deal in the most recent vote in June.
In advance of the vote, the union has been emphasizing the grower-owned cooperative’s financial performance since the lockout began. A statement the union distributed this week focused on a 30 percent decrease in net proceeds disclosed in Crystal’s latest financial statement and a $14 per ton decrease in payments to growers.
The union also ran ads in Friday’s Herald and Forum newspapers with statistics unfavorable to the company.
“Shareholders: This is fiscally irresponsible. End the lockout,” the ad said.
Crystal Vice President for Administration Brian Ingulsrud said the company had record profits in 2011 and though recent profits were lower, “Last year was still a very good year for us.”
Ingulsrud said the company’s expenses have been higher because it is still paying expenses for out-of-state replacement workers who make up 25 percent of their workforce now.
Byars said in light of American Crystal’s apparent willingness to continue the lockout, the union workers had few options other than to emphasize the company’s financial performance in hope that pressure from grower-owners or the public would sway management.
“They’re already locked out so they can’t withhold labor,” he said. “They’ve tried just about everything they can do.”
With financial concerns mounting on workers they are more likely to take permanent jobs or otherwise leave the union, threatening its membership.
“Usually after about a year it kind of puts workers in a position where they’re no longer secure to the union,” Byars said. “It depends on, financially, how long they can sustain it.”
Rachleff said the union needed stronger financial support from other unions, such as the AFL-CIO, which is supporting a boycott of American Crystal products.
“It’s more than just putting out a press release,” he said.
Allan Cull, who is locked out from the Drayton factory and is also a former shareholder, said he saw no reason to vote for the contract.
“I voted no three times already, and with no changes again why would I vote yes the fourth time?” he wrote in an email. “You would think (management) would start to negotiate. At some point the farmers will have to wake up a put a stop to this. But it may be too late already as they have lost so many good people.”
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Christopher Bjorke writes for the Grand Forks Herald