Published On: Thu, Feb 23rd, 2012

Locked Out Crystal Sugar and Cooper Tire Workers Launch Journey For Justice

American Crystal Sugar Company (ACS) has locked out some 1,300 workers. Hundreds of union members and supporters rallied in Moorhead, MN, Wednesday to protest the lockout of workers and delivered a petition signed by more than 33,000 people to the company headquarters. The petition, circulated on the internet by American Rights at Work and the Minnesota AFL-CIO, calls on CEO David Berg to end the lockout and resume negotiations with his workers.

“This overwhelming response to our petition shows that people support our struggle for justice at Crystal Sugar,” said Nathan Rham, who has worked at the ACS Hillsboro factory for four years.

Event organizers invited the crowd back to the Fargo Labor Temple for refreshments and then sent a delegation of four Crystal Sugar workers and four Cooper Tire workers on a 1,000-mile road trip dubbed From Fargo to Findlay: A Journey for Justice.

On November 28, Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. has locked out 1,050 members of the United Steelworkers (USW). The company has hired replacement workers through Strom Engineering, the same company that supplies replacement workers for the Crystal Sugar lockout.

David Foster, Executive Director of the Blue Green Alliance and a former USW regional director, noted the spread of lockouts as a tactic by employers looking to force concessions on workers in a down economy. “If companies can so easily lock out experienced workers and hire replacements through a contractor like Strom, then we will see labor standards drop across the board. This isn’t just about these two lockouts, this is about our way of life in this country. I’m glad to be part of a movement that’s pushing back, and proud to be here for the launch of this Journey for Justice.”

According to Teresa Brown, who worked for Cooper for 12 years, “We are thrilled to be in Fargo and to be taking this Journey for Justice. When we talk to ordinary people about our struggles, they start to understand what it means to be union and what it means to fight for a voice in your workplace.”

The Journey for Justice will head to St. Paul, MN, later today for a fundraiser at the Minnesota AFL-CIO for locked out Crystal Sugar and Cooper Tire workers.

Workers will recount their experiences from the Journey at their blog, and on Twitter @JourneyJustice.

Journey for Justice schedule, Feb. 22-24

Feb. 22
6 p.m.            Fundraiser for Locked Out Workers and Their Families
175 Aurora Ave, St. Paul, MN

Feb. 23
11:30 a.m.     ACS Picket Line
1060 Stoughton Ave, Chaska, MN

6 p.m.            Food Access/Hunger Awareness Event
Sponsored by the Fighting Poverty Coalition of Dane County
St. Mark’s Church
605 Spruce St., Madison, WI

Feb. 24
8:30 a.m.       Leafleting for locked out Cooper Tire workers
Farm & Fleet
2202 S. Stoughton Rd, Madison, WI

11 a.m.          Solidarity Lunch
IAMAW (Machinists) Local 873
258 Barstow St, Horicon, WI

4 p.m.            Leafleting for locked out Crystal Sugar workers
Piggly Wiggly
123 W. Oklahoma, Milwaukee, WI


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