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Union says CEO compared workers to cancerous tumor

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American Crystal Sugar workers locked out
Moorhead, Minn., resident and union worker Arland Woltjer, right, was among those gathered outside the American Crystal Sugar Co.'s processing plant in Moorhead, Minn., on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011.
MPR Photo/Ann Arbor Miller

Union representatives of locked-out employees at American Crystal Sugar Co. are criticizing the company president and CEO for what they call anti-worker sentiments.

The union released audio recordings Wednesday of CEO David Berg telling shareholders a story about a friend with cancer and saying, "We can't let a labor contract make us sick forever and ever. We have to treat the disease and that's what we're doing here."

The union says Berg was likening the workers to a 21-pound cancerous tumor.

Company spokesman Brian Ingulsrud did not immediately return a phone message.

Union workers planned a prayer vigil Wednesday evening outside company headquarters in Moorhead, Minn., to mark the fifth month of the lockout.

About 1,300 workers have been locked out at plants in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. 

 (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)