MOORHEAD - Going without a paycheck – and essentials like health insurance – are taking a toll on the 1,300 families hit by the American Crystal Sugar lockout.
Life-saving therapy in jeopardy Dan Dumas’ daughter Kayla was in a coma for three months after a terrible car accident. Since then she’s made amazing progress toward recovery, thanks to physical therapy, he said.
Her therapy is in jeopardy, however, because Crystal Sugar locked out Dumas and other workers and cut off their health care coverage. “This is really personal to me,” he told other workers at Thursday’s rally.
‘Let Mommy work’ Nine-year-old Octavia stood in the hot sun, holding a sign that read, “Why can’t my Mommy go to work?”
Her mother, Julie Nerguson, has worked at the Moorhead plant of American Crystal Sugar for 19 years. Her pay and benefits are critical for her family to make ends meet, she said.
“We have no health insurance,” she said. “We’ve cut out any frills like going out to eat. School is coming up [for Octavia] and we need money for school supplies.”
‘Kids need food’ Brady Peck held a sign that any parent can relate to: “Kids need food.”
The single father of two boys has worked for American Crystal for five years. His sons, age seven and 11, “can eat a lot,” he noted. “It’s kind of hard to feed them when you’re not working.”
While the lockout is difficult, workers’ lives would be worse if they had ratified the company’s last offer, which was an attack on the middle class, Peck said. “We’re losing our rights every day.”
All in the family Michelle Brower’s three-year-old daughter, Faith, managed to nap during Thursday’s rally and march, amid chants and honking horns. Brower’s husband is among those locked out, along with several other family members who work at the Crookston and Hillsboro plants.
The lack of health insurance is hitting the family very directly.
“My sister is expecting a baby in three weeks,” Brower said. Without coverage, the family will have to pay the entire cost of her hospitalization for the delivery. “She’s praying there are no complications.”