Crystal Sugar labor dispute foes pray together in church

A worship service in Grand Forks Wednesday was attended by leaders from both sides involved in the five-month labor lockout at American Crystal Sugar.

Company officials, union members and sugar beet farmers all prayed together at the United Lutheran Church service, which was designed to help reconcile the dispute, said the Grand Forks Herald.

The lockout over a contract dispute has idled 1,300 union workers while the company has brought in replacement workers.

Attending the service were David Berg, president and CEO of Crystal, and the company’s chief negotiator, Vice President Brian Ingulsrud, the paper said.

So was Mark Froemke, president of the AFL-CIO’s Western Minnesota Area Labor Council and on leave from working in the East Grand Forks Crystal plant.

A similar service was held Sunday at Holy Family Catholic Church in Grand Forks.

Froemke said: “We really appreciate what the Lutherans are doing, just as we were very grateful for what the Catholic church did last Sunday. Hopefully, everybody can kind of take this Christmas spirit that comes around once a year to, hopefully, spur everybody to sit back down and to come to an agreement that works for all of us.”

The paper said the service included verses from St. Paul’s letter to the divided church at Corinth, about the importance of each part of the body to the whole, how the eye is not more important than the ear.

Said the paper:

Joel Stola, a farmer from Beltrami, Minn., who grows beets for American Crystal, was one of several growers to attend.

“It certainly can’t hurt to have the Lord involved in helping us whenever there is a problem,” Stola said.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/22/2011 - 01:55 pm.

    Well, we can only hope the ACLU will jump in to nip this in the bud!

    You let people trying to solve differences start praying together and there’s no telling *what* might happen.

  2. Submitted by Alan Davis on 12/23/2011 - 08:24 pm.

    When I first moved to Minnesota, American Crystal Sugar was an admirable corporation. Now, years later, it’s a despicable place with a corporate culture fueled by administrative greed. The Fargo Forum has published the obscene salaries of the chief executives, as well as the cudgels used against employees who won’t lick the boots of these executives. It’s sad.

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