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Blogs / Power

House Democrats Wade Into Labor Dispute

September 26, 2012
Thirty-seven Democratic lawmakers weighed in this week on a labor dispute between a Midwestern sugar company and its employees, who've been locked out for over a year.

The letter, sent to the CEO of American Crystal Sugar Company and the vice president of the workers' union, calls for management and labor to "bargain in good faith and genuinely seek to find common ground so that a final agreement can be reached."

It comes days after the AFL-CIO threatened to oppose a farm bill sugar program because of the lockout. The AFL-CIO sent the lawmakers' letter to the press, but did not return calls seeking comment on whether it has decided to campaign against the sugar program. 

The AFL-CIO's threats to oppose the sugar program and the letter from Democrats are both efforts by the union to use Congress to put political pressure on the sugar company. But so far, the efforts don't appear big enough to derail the stalled farm bill, which passed the Senate and was voted out of the House Agriculture Committee 35-11.

So why would the union challenge the program?

"Solidarity" with the workers in Minnesota and North Dakota, a labor source familiar with the union's plans told the Alley recently, despite the many other union jobs that could be affected if the program were in jeopardy.
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