This week in Appleton, La Crosse, Madison, Mayville, Milwaukee and Wausau working families took action in support of the locked out Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Miller International Union (BCTGM) workers from the American Crystal Sugar Cooperative.
A nation-wide consumer boycott kicked off this week to highlight the unfair treatment of workers by American Crystal Sugar management and distribute information on the boycott of the company’s products.
“We are proud to stand with the workers at the five different plants of American Crystal Sugar in the Red River Valley,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “It is disgraceful that a highly profitable corporation would deny work to the people who helped make that company a success. We hope that boycotting American Crystal Sugar products will bring management back to the bargaining table so that everyone can come to an agreement that respects the dignity of all those involved.”
This consumer boycott is part of the broader labor movement’s continued support for the locked-out workers. The management of Crystal Sugar has locked out 1,300 workers from their jobs for over a year, denying them income and healthcare benefits. The boycott of American Crystal Sugar products began on October 15 and will end as soon as the workers are given the opportunity to do their job under a fair contract. The labor movement endorses consumer boycotts only in instances of grave injustice.
Informational leaflets took place across the country this week in an attempt to draw public attention to the plight of the locked-out sugar workers, many of which have spent their entire lives working for the company.
Workers want to rejoin the American Crystal Sugar family, but should not be expected to give up their voice on the job to do so. In the past, American Crystal Sugar respected its workers by negotiating with them over terms of employment. In this 30-year period, the company has grown to become an industry leader. Pulling the rug out from under the workers who helped build the company now is neither appropriate nor necessary for the continued success of the company.