An excerpt from recent editorials in Midwest newspapers.
On both sides at Crystal Sugar being too dug in:
It's difficult to conclude which side is right and which side is wrong in the ongoing lockout of union workers from American Crystal Sugar Co.'s processing plants. That's largely because there is no definitive right or wrong. What's at play is a clash of values and philosophies that is as old as the conflict between management and workers.
Neither the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union or the management of Crystal have been open and forthcoming about their disagreement. Crystal in particular, a company never hesitant to take its case to the public and press when it's lobbying for the sugar program, for example, has kept all but one of its executives under wraps. And that executive merely spouts a line of company boilerplate.
For its part, union leaders have dug themselves in so deeply that winning it all seems to have taken precedence over getting union members back to work. ...
The lockout, however, will have long-term consequences. No matter when or how the dispute is settled, fallout from the company's decision to lock out union workers will be toxic. The destruction of a long and relatively cordial relationship between the company and the union falls on the company's lockout. The union, after all, did not strike and was not contemplating a strike during contract talks. Crystal's managers and its shamefully silent (muzzled?) cooperative member growers apparently can justify the lockout option, but the damage it has caused cannot be denied, whether one favors the union or supports the company.
There's a lot at stake: the livelihoods of 1,300 workers; the bitter divisions the lockout has caused in Crystal-dependent communities in the Red River Valley; the future of the federal sugar program, which needs union support to hold off attempts to kill it off; the image of a company that, until now, has been a model for labor-management relations; the negative economic impact lost worker wages is having on the valley.
... The union will vote by Nov. 1 on the company's latest proposal, although union leaders don't like it. A vote might be a bad idea, especially if the union again rejects the company offer. It would be better for all -- better for the future of the company and its workers -- to get back to the bargaining table pronto.
-- The Forum of Fargo/Moorhead