“It’s unfortunate that this lockout by Crystal Sugar has come to an official boycott”, said Ken Sagar, President of Iowa Federation of a Labor. “We have Iowans that work for American Crystal Sugar (United Sugar) in Mason City that have been locked too long. This lock out and now boycott impacts the community and state. A boycott will also have an adverse impact on farmers and others associated with the making of sugar.”
The AFL-CIO endorsed a nationwide consumer boycott of American Crystal Sugar products to begin Monday, October 15, in response to Crystal’s Sugar 14-month lockout of its workers. The AFL-CIO noted that the boycott will be called off if the management of Crystal Sugar, which has denied its workers the opportunity to do their jobs, returns to the bargaining table in good faith and concludes a contract.
This consumer boycott is part of the broader labor movement’s continued support for the locked-out workers of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). American Crystal Sugar management has blocked 1,300 workers from their jobs for over a year, denying them incomes and healthcare benefits. The national labor movement endorses boycotts cautiously and only in instances of grave injustice.
“The twelve million union families of the AFL-CIO are proud to stand with the courageous locked-out workers who are responsible for American Crystal Sugar’s profitability and previously strong reputation,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said. “As we saw with the lock out of the NFL referees, locking out skilled workers who do important, unglamorous work hurts not only the workers, but the product and he bottom line. We hope that this boycott will encourage Crystal Sugar to finally respect its workers, who worked so hard every day to make Crystal Sugar a highly profitable industry leader.”
Trumka continued that “Crystal Sugar workers have been locked out since August 1st of last year because Crystal Sugar’s CEO, after rewarding himself with a 50% pay increase for his union workers’ increased productivity, decided to try to break the workers’ union. Berg’s actions have endangered the generation of labor peace that made Crystal Sugar an industry leader. We hope that American Crystal Sugar will return to the bargaining table to conclude a contract and end the corporation’s sliding reputation and bottom line. With good faith by Crystal Sugar’s management, the corporation can return to its previous course of harmonious labor relations and profitability.”