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Published March 30, 2012, 12:05 AM

Debra Kostrzewski, Argyle, Minn., letter: Do growers want another 2011-2012?

Co-op members, do you really want to go through another year like this one? Or would you prefer to have skilled, experienced and hard-working people back on the jobs they loved and respected and gave their all for?

By: Debra Kostrzewski ,

ARGYLE, Minn. — Nearly nine months into the lockout, I can’t help but wonder why so many people still think it’s a strike.

We factory workers did not strike, nor did we intend or threaten to do so. American Crystal Sugar locked us out. Managers ordered workers to stop working and had security guards escort them off the premises.

Then the company had lines painted on the ground, warning 1300 workers who wanted to do their jobs, “Do not cross.”

I don’t understand why American Crystal would want to treat employees that way. We’ve been such a great asset to the cooperative and helped it achieve record profits, year after year.

And the sad sacks the company hired in our place — what are they doing? Judging from the “totes” piled around factories and being trucked to storage facilities and other sugar producers, the “replacement workers” are making lots of re-melt, which must be reprocessed to make saleable white sugar.

How do we get through to beet growers and shareholders to help them understand what’s going on?

Please, American Crystal Sugar co-op members. Check out your factories, see what condition they're in and learn what really is going on -- or is not going on -- inside.

And please tell CEO Dave Berg to bring us back to work with a fair contract. Crystal executives claim they have all the people they need to run efficiently. If this is so, why are they holding job fairs and constantly running ads in the newspapers? And why do so many of the new hires refuse to stay?

Co-op members, do you really want to go through another year like this one? Or would you prefer to have skilled, experienced and hard-working people back on the jobs they loved and respected and gave their all for?

Debra Kostrzewski

Kostrzewski is a locked-out American Crystal employee.

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