It’s finally official: The AFL-CIO has endorsed a nationwide consumer boycott of American Crystal Sugar products in response to the company’s 15-month lockout of 1,300 workers at facilities in Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota.
The boycott, which began Oct. 15, is part of the broader labor movement’s continued support for locked-out members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union at Crystal Sugar, where management has blocked workers from their jobs, denying them of their incomes and healthcare benefits.
In addition to bags of sugar labeled Crystal Sugar, the boycott extends to several brands that sell Crystal’s product under a different label, including “Market Pantry” sugar sold in Target stores. The easiest way to avoid buying Crystal Sugar is to buy cane sugar instead, like the C&H label.
The national labor movement endorses boycotts cautiously and only in instances of grave injustice, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka noted.
“The 12 million union families of the AFL-CIO are proud to stand with the courageous locked-out workers who are responsible for American Crystal Sugar’s profitability and previously strong reputation,” Trumka said. “As we saw with the lock out of the NFL referees, locking out skilled workers who do important, unglamorous work hurts not only the workers, but the bottom line. We hope that this boycott will encourage Crystal Sugar to finally respect its workers, who worked so hard every day to make Crystal Sugar a highly profitable industry leader.”
Trumka added that Crystal Sugar CEO Dave Berg, after rewarding himself with a 50 percent pay increase for his union workers’ productivity, has obviously “decided to try to break the workers’ union.”
Supporters are asked to call Berg at 218-236-4400 and let him know they are not buying Crystal Sugar products until he ends the lockout and bargains a fair contract with workers.