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American Crystal Sugar reaches tentative agreement with union

American Crystal Sugar Co. has reached a tentative four-year collective bargaining agreement with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers union after a previous offer failed to gain approval.

American Crystal Sugar.jpg
American Crystal Sugar has announced a tentative four-year collective bargaining agreement with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers union.
Trevor Peterson / Agweek file photo
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MOORHEAD, Minn. — American Crystal Sugar Co. on Thursday, Sept. 8, reached a tentative four-year collective bargaining agreement with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers union.

BCTGM leaders will recommend passage of the agreement when it is presented to their members on Sept. 13, American Crystal Sugar said in a statement.

The Moorhead, Minnesota-based farmer-owned sugar processing cooperative met with the BCTGM union in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in mid-June and then again July 14-20, after which union members on July 26 rejected a contract offer. The two entities agreed to extend their old contract from a July 31 end date to Sept. 15 and to meet for further negotiations on Sept. 7 and 8.

The new contract offer includes a 17% increase in wages over a four-year period — the same as the total increase offered in the previous proposal that union members rejected in July. What changed was that in the new contract proposal, wages will increase by 8% the first year and 3% each of the following three years, compared to the earlier proposal of 7% the first year, followed by 4% the second year and 3% each of the last two years of the contract.

A pension increase of $1.50 in year one of the contract remains in the new proposal.

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New wages will be effective upon ratification, on the first day of the new pay period. While the new contract proposal no longer includes a signing bonus and there was no agreement for retroactive pay, the proposal does include a $1,000 retention bonus to be paid the first week of December for employees who remain employed through Nov. 24.

American Crystal said the union also agreed to new vacation accrual and temporary employee policies and a number of other provisions from their past proposal.

"We are pleased with this result and the recommendation to the membership to vote in favor of the agreement," the American Crystal statement said.

American Crystal locked out workers for 22 months after contract talks failed in 2011 . Workers in the spring of 2013 accepted the contract on the fifth vote. The 2017 talks ended amicably.

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