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Crystal Sugar, union agree to resume talks Thursday with federal mediator

GRAND FORKS - A union representative confirmed this afternoon that American Crystal Sugar Co. and representatives for the company's union-represented employees will resume negotiations on a new contract Thursday.

Mark Froemke, a representative for the union, said union and company officials will meet with the federal mediator assigned to the case on Thursday. He declined to disclose the location and time of the meeting.

American Crystal Sugar's board of directors met today at the Alerus Center. Froemke said he didn't know if American Crystal's decision to resume negotiations was made during the board meeting. The union has sought to resume negotiations on a new contract, but until today the company had declined to return to the negotiating table.

Today is Day 24 of the lockout.

The union that represents about 1,300 union workers at American Crystal's five sugar processing plants and two other sites in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa voted down the company's last contract proposal July 30. The union contract expired July 31. The company locked out union workers and some non-union workers in union-represented positions on Aug. 1 and has brought in replacement workers to run the plants.

American Crystal has sugar processing plants in East Grand Forks, Crookston and Moorhead in Minnesota and Drayton and Hillsboro in North Dakota.