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This final week before Christmas brings into sharper relief plants in both Minnesota and North Dakota.
The issues here are rippling across Minnesota and North Dakota as unemployment compensation benefits dry up for the Minnesota-side workers. North Dakota’s workers remain out of work without unemployment benefits because of the definition that state’s laws give the type of work stoppage at American Crystal.
Fewer and fewer American workers are creating the goods and performing the services we consume. Most of the core work of this society is being shipped elsewhere, reducing real income and economic stability for those left behind. Like the P-9 union working for Hormel Meats in Austin, the sugar workers and the farmers who own Crystal Sugar for decades enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. This is disintegrating in the current climate, a climate that leads to statements like that uttered by Crystal CEO in effect, they say, likening the workers to “a 21-pound cancerous tumor.”
As unions membership diminishes and strikes and lockouts have left even fewer workers members of unions, rank and file workers and their leadership have shown a willingness to ignore long-term effects of their work on environments and health as long as work is created.
“Jobs!” has become the rallying cry for conservatives and corporations insisting that if government and workers fail to yield to demanded concessions and bailouts, everyone will be out of a job. This sort of thing scares politicians and a jobless workforce into conceding and redirecting wealth to the already wealthy. In fact, more union members are voting for Republicans or Tea Party candidates these days than their traditional cheerleading Democrats.
What are the issues causing such a serious split between this huge cooperative and its workers? Is it possible to resolve this dispute as long as a lockout is allowed and replacement workers hired? What is the definition of a cooperative like Crystal Sugar? (Land-O-Lakes, Cenex and Great River Energy are also large coops.) The BCTGM is a consolidation of several unions seeking strength in numbers. Where is that strength in the face of the company’s lockout tactic?
Where will this take us? Have corporations grown so large and powerful and unions less and less relevant that fair resolution of labor stoppages is less likely now and later?
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and guest co-host PROF. TOM O’CONNELL will ask this week’s guests these questions and more.
54:38 minutes (50.03 MB)