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United Sugars lockout continues in Mason City

Twenty-three workers at the American Crystal Sugar plant on Mason City’s north side continue to be locked out of their jobs. It was said that American Crystal Sugar has brought in workers from outside the area, possibly from Minnesota, from a company that specializes in dealing with “strike” staffing”.|Twenty-three workers at the American Crystal Sugar plant on Mason City’s north side continue to be locked out of their jobs.

It was said that American Crystal Sugar has brought in workers from outside the area, possibly from Minnesota, from a company that specializes in dealing with “strike” staffing”.

That company, called Strohm Engineering, claims on its website that “Each staffing project is custom-tailored to meet clients’ specific needs. Strom brings unparalleled experience to developing comprehensive labor contingency plans, and also offers client-specific services to supplement existing internal contingency plans.”

On Saturday, locked-out workers gathered just outside the plant with other supporters to hold a rally and discuss the situation.

Click here to view photos.

“This is not a strike; we are locked out,” said Tom Johanns, the union president that helped organize the rally. “They (Strohm Engineering) have people coming in from Minnesota running the plant. They are staying in a hotel in Mason City. They get a car to share and $85 dollars a day stipend plus some kind of wage.”

The twenty-three workers were locked out on August 1st of this year. Contract negotiations between the union that represents workers and American Crystal Sugar broke down and that affected about 1,300 workers around the country. The contract presented by the company was overwhelmingly rejected by the union, called the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union.

Tom Willett, another union representative, said there are concerns that the replacement workers do not have the expertise to safely run the plant. “There’s flammable dust in there that could explode,” he said.

According to a September 9th story on the BCTGM website, fires have recently broken out at other Crystal Sugar plants affected by the lockout. “When you put poorly trained replacement workers into these facilities, preventable accidents can and will happen. That is exactly what happened last night in Drayton and in East Grand Forks this morning.”

The company has made only one contract offer so far and there have been little negotiations taking place since.

Rallying workers and supporters are also concerned about the coming cold weather and how the protest will continue of no agreement is reached.

Watch video explaining the workers’ situation:


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