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Signed Petitions Denied by American Crystal Sugar - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Signed Petitions Denied by American Crystal Sugar

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© File Courtesy KFGO © File Courtesy KFGO

Strong words came from American Crystal Sugar CEO David Berg after hearing that petitions with more than 100,000 signatures were not allowed to be delivered to him by union members Thursday.

Berg said, "Picket signs and protests are, if that's important to you I wish you the best in that activity, but frankly we have a sugar company to run. That's what we're doing."

Union leaders and Moorhead city council members pleaded for an end to the lockout. Some said what has happened over the past 16 months is appalling.

The clear message that came from Thursday's gathering was best stated by Gayln Olson. He said, "the lockout is hurting not only factory workers, our families, our communities but Crystal itself."

While media heard the message, a manager at the Holiday Inn in South Fargo prevented everyone from sharing it with those at a shareholders meeting in the same building.

Union President John Riskey said of this, "Well, looks like they will not take from us, but we'll do what we can to get them to them so they know."

The Holiday Inn manager attempted to get a Crystal representative, but had no luck. CEO David Berg had no idea the petitions were outside his meeting. Though he said if he had known they still would not have been allowed inside.

Berg said, "I have 2,800 shareholders and lots of other people who are there, and I'm frankly focused on what's going on there."

For Berg, it was business as usual as the shareholders' meeting continued throughout the day, despite knowing the lockout battle drags on.

He said, "Our negotiation philosophy in this negotiation and previous labor negotiations is do things for the long term."

Aside from what happened at the Holiday Inn. We were able to track down American Crystal's net profits for 2012. They dropped more than $250-million to just under $550-million. That number comes after an $800-million profit a year ago. That is a 30 percent decrease.

It is important to note though: last year's profits were a record high. The company says 2012 was still a very good year.

As for what is next for both sides, union members have voted down a contract four times, and they are not budging on what they want.

David Berg said he is more than willing to sit down and talk, and if a deal is reached he would do everything he can to get union members back to work.

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