By Jon Collins Monday, August 29, 2011 at 10:44 am
Until Aug. 1, when 1,300 American Crystal Sugar workers across three states were locked out by management, the successful Red River Valley-based sugar beet industry was viewed as an example of how cooperation between labor and management could yield sweet results. U.S. Sen. Al Franken warns that the lockout may undermine consensus in Congress for some of the sugar industry protections that have made it so profitable.
“There are members of Congress whose natural constituency is agriculture; some who see themselves as champions of business, and others who fight for workers,” Franken wrote in an editorial at the Grand Forks Herald late last week. “Knowing that the program has worked so well for so many years for the hardworking growers who produce such a large percentage of our nation’s sugar beets and for the dedicated workers and skilled management, who turn those beets into the highest quality sugar in the world, has played no small role in creating this consensus.”
Franken said the lockout is threatening to “to tear at the fabric of this partnership” between labor, farmers and the company, which has made the industry incredibly successful in recent years.