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Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) approved a contract with the American Crystal Sugar that ends a 20-month lockout.

Management at the beet sugar cooperative closed the doors on 1,300 workers on August 1, 2011, after the members voted against a contract offer. The company continued to operate using replacement workers, but its costs were escalating.

The union members then rejected three more company offers that included increases in the workers’ share of health care costs and other givebacks.

“This means Crystal Sugar’s skilled, experienced workers will be transitioning back to the factories to start repairing the damage that’s been done over the past 20 months,” stated BCTGM Local 167G President John Riskey.

The trade union movement rallied around these workers. Added Riskey, “BCTGM members thank all those who have supported our stand for justice and dignity and who have helped our families survive these hard times.”

Five BCTGM locals represent workers at Crystal Sugar facilities in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa.