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Difficult vote ahead for American Crystal workers on strike

Marino Eccher of the Fargo Forum took a hard look at the prospects facing locked-out American Crystal Sugar Co. workers. They will vote Saturday whether to accept a contract that hasn’t changed since they last turned the offer down in November. “The terms haven’t changed, but in the eyes of some workers, the prospects for a better offer – particularly after the latest round of negotiations went nowhere – have dimmed. ‘I don’t know that we have that much leverage anymore,’ said Terry Johnson, a chemist at the Moorhead plant.”

Meanwhile, there are some who hold out. “Local union president John Riskey said workers were split on whether to revisit a contract 90 percent of them voted down last time around. Rick Krull, a 32-year Crystal employee, said he’ll vote ‘no.’ But he acknowledged that ‘everybody’s got their tipping point’ where lost wages and other challenges sway their stance. ‘Where that point is, is an individual thing,’ he said. ‘I’m not at that point yet.’ ”

For its part, American Crystal officials did not respond to Eccer’s request for comment. For months, Crystal managers have insisted their last offer was final. They also say more than 7,000 people have applied for about 900 replacement jobs. And while the lockout has cut into productivity, those costs are falling by the day.

The license of an in-home child care center in Albert Lea was suspended Tuesday after the death of a 3-month-old boy Friday who attended the day care facility, writes Sarah Stultz of the Albert Lea Tribune. According to police, the baby was brought into Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea Friday after he had trouble breathing. He died at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. The Minnesota Department of Human Services requires license suspension pending the completion of a police investigation.

Suzanne Rechtzigel, who operated the child-care center at 1919 Brookside Drive, stated her innocence. “They haven’t finished the investigation, so I feel it’s not right and it’s not correct,” she said. Rechtzigel said the baby left her house at about 1:30 p.m. and wasn’t taken into the emergency room until about 6 p.m. “I claim I am innocent,” she said. “It didn’t happen here.” The baby’s parents could not be reached for comment.

The soil loves all this moisture. The Grand Forks Herald picked up the Associated Press’ weekly crop roundup. One reporting station had rain totaling more than 9 inches, the report noted. As of Sunday, topsoil moisture supplies were rated 75 percent adequate and 17 percent surplus, and only 1 percent very short and 7 percent short. Corn is rated 82 percent good to excellent, with an average height of 23 inches. Soybeans are rated 86 percent fair to good, with an average height of 6 inches. Corn and soybean development is ahead of last year’s pace and the five-year average.

Winnebago will be getting rid of a big eyesore when Holtmeier Construction of Mankato demolishes the old Stokely plant, writes Jodelle Greiner of the Fairmont Sentinel. “We’re getting a deal on getting rid of the biggest blight in town for the last 20 years,” said city administrator Austin Bleess. Holtmeier will remove the surface floor slab concrete, the top portion of the footings, and the loading dock and suspended slab areas. The company will also level the soil backfill, which will come from construction on First Avenue. Previous estimates were in the $100,000 range, Bleess said. Holtmeier’s price is around $50,000, in part because they will be taking the concrete from the Stokely site and using it on First Avenue. “This price will be money well spent,” Bleess said. “It will save the city money on trucking costs both ways.”

The shutdown of the Marktplatz Mall was averted Monday when the outstanding utility bills due to the City of New Ulm were paid, Assistant City Attorney Tom Borgen told Josh Moniz of the New Ulm Journal The City would have turned off power and water to the mall due to $4,000 owed against New Ulm Retail and Development LLC. (NURD), which owns the northern portion of the mall. City officials claim the money owed is part of a larger utilities debt going as far back as late 2011. If the utilities had been shut off, the businesses operating in the mall would have been closed in compliance with City and state regulations. The closures would have included Little Rascals day care which hosts 102 children for 63 families. Randy Danielson, who owns the southern portion of the mall through SEK Financial, LLC., confirmed he paid the $4,000. “I did it because we have to keep the mall running,” said Danielson, “But, it’s about time the mall comes under one ownership, one way or another.”

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/19/2012 - 05:55 pm.

    Former NWA union members …

    could have saved those Crystal sugar people a LOT of grief.

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