Locked-out workers for American Crystal Sugar Company say they were surprised by the amount of security at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Fargo, North Dakota. Crystal’s management downplayed it.
About 1,300 workers at Crystal plants in Iowa, North Dakota, and Minnesota have been locked out since August 1 because of a contract dispute. The company has been using replacement workers.
More than a dozen security guards were present in the hotel where Thursday's shareholder meeting took place. Union members also were at the hotel, where they held a news conference. Union local president John Riskey said, "I don't know what they're afraid of."
Company President and CEO David Berg said the security was a precaution and that he didn't expect any problems. He said, "You don't see things going to that level."
Berg says the labor issue has to be resolved before the company can move forward. He says the company has the support of growers. " We could give wonderful raises, unlimited healthcare benefits, bankrupt the company and then who benefits from that? So we have taken a long term view and the growers support it."