'Journey For Justice' Takes On Lockouts At American Crystal Sugar And Cooper Tires

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Workers from the United Steelworkers and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union joined forces Wednesday to launch a thousand mile journey through six states to raise awareness of issues related to lockouts at American Crystal Sugar and Cooper Tires.

“From Fargo to Findlay: A Journey for Justice” is a joint project of the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). Locked out workers from American Crystal Sugar Company and Cooper Tire and Rubber Company will embark on a road trip from Fargo, North Dakota, to Findlay, Ohio, in order to focus attention on the most recent wave of greed-motivated corporate attacks on workers and their unions.

Eight members of the USW and BCTGM will travel over 1,000 miles through six states in six days, participating in rallies, fundraisers, and direct actions with local union members and allies along the way. The Journey for Justice will begin on Wed., Feb. 22, 2012, with a rally in Fargo and make stops in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana before concluding on Mon., Feb. 27, in Findlay.

American Crystal Sugar has locked out 1,300 union workers six months ago and Cooper Tires locked out 1,000 workers just after Thanksgiving.

On November 28th, Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. locked out 1,050 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) from its plant in Findlay, OH. The company hired replacement workers through Strom Engineering, the same contractor that supplies replacements for the Crystal Sugar lockout. In 2008, when Cooper Tire was in financial trouble, members of USW Local 207L made concessions worth $31 million to save their plant. Meanwhile, CEO Roy Armes saw his compensation more than double between 2007 and 2010 to over $4.7 million. Workers voted against the company’s unfair proposal and offered to keep working while negotiations continued. The company chose to lock them out instead.

This seems to be part of a regular pattern across the country. Companies are making record profits, paying CEOs and executives massive bonuses while pushing to make unions give up salaries, jobs and workplace rights.

American Crystal Sugar has made record profits in recent years and refuses to negotiate with the union workers unless they agree to a punitive offer in advance -- an agreement their members have already rejected twice.

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