SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – More than 400 American Crystal Sugars workers in North Dakota who are locked out in a contract dispute are eligible for unemployment benefits, the state Supreme Court said in a ruling issued released Tuesday.
The decision reverses a lower court’s ruling that said the workers were not eligible for benefits from Job Service North Dakota because state law prohibits unemployment insurance for workers involved in labor disputes. Nearly 1,300 American Crystal Sugar workers in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, have been locked out since Aug. 1, 2011, after their union rejected the cooperative’s proposed contract.
Minnesota and Iowa workers had already been allowed to collect unemployment benefits.
John Riskey, a spokesman for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union, said the ruling will mean “quite a bit” for the 420 locked-out workers in North Dakota.
“To be locked out by Crystal Sugar as they have, all these families without anything, most of them scraping by to put food on the table, it’s going to mean a lot,” Riskey said.
Two of the justices on the North Dakota Supreme Court voted against the decision.
The workers’ attorney had argued that the “labor dispute” language referred to situations in which the workers withheld labor, which was not the case with the Crystal Sugar workers who wanted to work but were locked out, he said.
Darren Brostrom, Job Service North Dakota’s unemployment insurance director, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. He earlier said that if the court ruled in favor of the workers, they would get $4 million or more in benefits.
Brian Ingulsrud, American Crystal’s vice president for administration, said the company was not directly involved in the case and has moved on with new employees.
“It’s a matter between the state of North Dakota and locked-out employees,” he said. “We’re moving forward operating the business normally and we greatly appreciate the new employees and they’re doing a great job of processing their sugar beets into products for our customers.”
There are no plans for meetings between the two sides, Ingulsrud said.
Union members have rejected the contract proposal four times.
Follow Kristi Eaton on Twitter at
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.