Statewide: August 3, 2011 Archive
American Crystal Sugar executives say they've made their best offer already and don't plan on negotiating away from their position. But now, the Teamsters Union is raising the stakes.
Union officials say their members will not make deliveries to American Crystal plants during hte lockout, WDAZ reports.
The local union requested the support of Teamsters during the lockout.
Drivers make deliveries from UPS, freight companies, maintenance and things that need to be delivered daily to American Crystal Sugar.
Representatives from Teamsters say they don't intend to hurt the company, just send a message.
American Crystal Sugar Vice President Brian Ingulsrud said that to his knowledge the company has had no problems getting deliveries up to this point.
American Crystal Sugar employs about 1,300 people at five sugar beet processing plants in the Red River Valley. In Minnesota, the company has operations in Moorhead, East Grand Forks and Crookston. Its plants in North Dakota are in Drayton and Hillsboro.
American Crystal Sugar workers are represented by the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union, which is part of the AFL-CIO.
The company negotiated its last contract with the union in 2004. Before the negotiations failed and the lockout began American Crystal offered workers a 17 percent pay increase over five years. Workers and union representatives seemed generally pleased with that aspect of the contract, but are opposed to increased health care costs.
MinnPost: Will Red River Valley community fabric unravel over Crystal Sugar plant lockout?
Also on MN Today
Farmfest mixes politics and agriculture
"Minnesota ranks as the sixth-leading state in the nation in domestic agricultural production. ... According to USDA, the value of all of Minnesota's agricultural production in 2008, the last year available, was almost $16 billion" - Gov Mark Dayton (MPR News)
To the displeasure of environmentalists, Dayton told the Farmfest audience that he's working to streamline the environmental regulation of agriculture. He said if he's successful, it will help encourage more farmers to expand.
Duck season set, with changes
Unprecedented changes are coming for Minnesota duck hunters this fall -- including an earlier season, higher bag limits for wood ducks and hen mallards and north-south hunting zones -- the state's first ever (Star Tribune).
St. Paul building owner to set up first urban wind farm in the country
This summer, several wind turbines have been welded to the rooftop of the building at 1010 Dale Street North in St. Paul. Soon, a fourth one will go on a separate pole in the parking lot (The Line).
Repairs still needed to half of MN deficient bridges
Half the bridges rated deficient will be repaired or replaced by the end of this construction season, Minnesota's bridge inspector said. After the collapse of the 35W bridge in 2007, 120 bridges were rated deficient, said Nancy Daubenberger, head of the Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge inspections. Lawmakers in 2008 approved spending for repairs or replacement (MPR News).
My Hometown by Tricia V via Flickr
"Another sign... but this one is special and the one I wanted to take. It's my hometown! The sign was lying on the ground. I picked it up pointed it in the right direction."
Posted at 3:52 PM on August 3, 2011
by Julie Siple
Filed under: Food
To understand senior hunger in Minnesota, it helps to meet 94-year-old Earl Komis.
Komis is part of a generation that knows hunger. He lived on a farm in western Minnesota during the Great Depression. When drought struck, he and his family didn't have enough food.
"There was nothing to eat, nowhere," recalled Komis. "There was no money coming in. For six years, we didn't have any crops. We didn't have rain."
When his parents couldn't afford to feed everyone, then 15-year-old Komis left home and walked to a nearby city, where he hoped to find work. He spent a day and a half without food.
"It felt like your stomach was growed to your backbone," he said. "You didn't have any pain or anything, you just got weak. If I would have kept on going, why I'd have just faded away."
Today, Komis lives in Ortonville, a small town in Big Stone County, on Minnesota's western border. He gets by on a small Social Security check and receives a monthly box of commodity food from the federal Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors. But he has enough food. And he said nothing compares to the hardship of the Great Depression.
Nationwide, 7.5 percent of households with seniors report that they struggle to consistently obtain enough nutritious food. But researchers suspect the number is higher.
"They experienced real hardship earlier in their life, so when they're responding to questions about how it is for them now, they're answering in a sense relative to the worst that they've experienced in the past," said Edward Frongillo, Professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.
Still, it's important to pay attention to senior hunger, Frongillo said, in part because seniors who have trouble getting enough nutritious food are significantly more likely to be in poor health. They're also more vulnerable to the effects of hunger, because many are already dealing with health concerns.
"We know that in general as people age they're a little bit less able to deal with crisis as they come along, both socially and biologically," Frongillo said. "Nutrition is important in helping to maintain their resilience to things that might come to them."
For more hunger coverage, visit our Ground Level blog.
Posted at 8:39 PM on August 3, 2011
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Environment
A judge ruled Wednesday that AT&T can build a cell phone tower near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The approved tower, at 199-feet, is less than the 450-foot tower the company was initially seeking.
Hennepin County District Judge Philip Bush allowed the smaller tower. The tower, reports the Star Tribune, will be "unseen from inside the federal wilderness, would provide similar cell phone coverage and provide for public safety without spoiling the scenic view."
The decision pleases the environmental group Friends of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. That's the group that sued to get a smaller tower built.
Proponents of the tower highlighted the economic benefits of improved telecommunications in the Iron Range. They also cited additional safety for those lumbering tourists searching for the next portage.
While extending cell service into a wilderness area could have benefits, Bush reasoned, there's no case law or finding that it's a national need.
Boundary Waters visitors are instructed by the U.S. Forest Service not to rely on cellphones in emergencies and that satellite phones are available. According to Forest Service statistics, there are about 16 emergency incidents annually among 250,000 visitors in the 1.1-million-acre BWCA.