More than 600 locked out sugar workers and supporters rallied outside the headquarters of American Crystal Sugar August 11, demanding an end to the lockout.
Why did workers, organizers and just plain folks rally in support of a struggle happening a thousand miles away? For CWA Local 6360 Vice President Todd Appleby, the answer is simple.
Organized labor mobilized in congressional districts nationwide in August, with two top leaders saying union activists this year will take the place of the tea party radicals of 2009-10. And the unionists, leaders and organizers say, are mad.
Labor, community, faith, women, youth and environmental activists discussed, debated and got fired up for the fights ahead.
Workers believe that American Crystal Sugar has locked out 1,300 employees at seven plants in three states in order to take advantage of the nationwide attacks on unions.
The 45,000 strikers walked off the job this weekend because the company has refused to budge since negotiations began July 22.
Workers are locked outside company gates as their union battles an employer they say is determined to slash health benefits and weaken job security.
Labor leaders say the nation's real crisis is not a debt crisis but an unemployment crisis and spending cuts could, in fact, spiral the country into an even deeper recession.
Verizon, which earns billions in profits and whose chief officer makes $55,000 per day, is attacking the working conditions, health benefits and pensions of its unionized workforce.
"Industries that once were great contributors to our country - auto, shipbuilding, machine tools and even electronics - are shadows of what they once were," declares the Task Force on Job Creation, in its report, released in July.