Dayton offers help in American Crystal contract dispute

Gov. Mark Dayton
Gov. Mark Dayton listens as a union worker currently locked out by American Crystal Sugar Company talks about the impact on her family at a gathering Saturday December 3 at Minnesota State University, Moorhead.
Dan Gunderson

Gov. Mark Dayton met with an American Crystal Sugar Company executive and listened to locked out workers stories during a Saturday visit to Moorhead.

Dayton said he's offered to help restart contract talks and stay involved until the dispute is resolved. He said he brings negotiating experience gained during the state government shutdown.

"Realizing what it does take to come to a difficult resolution of very serious differences between two parties that have come not to trust one another," Dayton said. "And that's the situation today."

Union members embraced the governor's proposal. American Crystal responded with a letter to the governor saying the company remains interested and willing to return to the bargaining table to resume serious negotiations.

No new negotiations are scheduled, but union and company negotiators have been working off and on through a federal mediator.

Dayton said hearing how the lockout is affecting families strengthened his resolve to end the contract dispute.

"It's very, very painful, and I feel that right in my own being and especially at this holiday season," Dayton said. "So it's about dealing with the reality of the situation but saying that we're going to get through that. We're going to break through the impasse and get things solved."