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Vol. 75/No. 35      October 3, 2011

Broadening out solidarity
for sugar workers

The following is a letter from Joe Swanson, a longtime leader of the Socialist Workers Party living in Lincoln, Nebraska, on work he and Max Bontrager, an 18-year-old restaurant worker, have been doing to spread solidarity to 1,300 workers fighting a lockout by American Crystal Sugar in the Upper Midwest.

On September 8, at the executive board monthly meeting of the Lincoln Central Labor Union, Max and I gave a presentation on the lockout by the American Crystal bosses of 1,300 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union in Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota.

We were invited to speak by a member of the executive board, a retired sheet metal worker, after contacting him the day before.

We received a supportive response among participants in the meeting who hadn’t yet heard of the lockout. During the discussion, we learned that members of the LCLU would be attending the Nebraska AFL-CIO state convention over the weekend. They thanked us for bringing the lockout to their attention and said they would see what could be done to support to the sugar workers.

After a follow-up phone call a day after the state convention, we found out that the convention passed a hat, raising $1,070 and sent a message of solidarity.

Today, I talked to the same e-board member about broadening out the solidarity. He said he would talk to the other brothers and sisters about using the LCLU hall as a drop-off place for contributions and see whether they could organize a solidarity caravan to the picket lines. Also today, Max talked to one of his former teachers, a member of the teachers union, who is interested in visiting the picket lines.

In Solidarity,
Joe Swanson
Related articles:
Sugar workers’ fight wins growing support
1,300 stand strong against American Crystal
Solidarity with sugar workers’ fight
‘We won’t go away’ say NY Boathouse strikers
Chicago forum discusses Midwest workers’ struggles
On the Picket Line
Four workers killed in coal mine flood in United Kingdom  
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