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Crystal Sugar asks ND Supreme Court to rehear case

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Lawyers for American Crystal Sugar are asking the North Dakota Supreme Court to reconsider a decision to grant locked-out workers unemployment benefits.

The petition to rehear the case was filed with the state Supreme Court this week.

The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled last month that more than 400 locked-out workers in North Dakota are eligible for unemployment benefits from Job Service North Dakota. That decision reversed a lower court's ruling that said the workers were not eligible for benefits from Job Service North Dakota because state law prohibits unemployment insurance for workers involved in labor disputes. Nearly 1,300 American Crystal Sugar workers in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa have been locked out since Aug. 1, 2011, after their union rejected the cooperative's proposed contract.

Crystal Sugar spokesman Brian Ingulsud told The Associated Press that the company pays into an insurance fund so the unemployment benefits "have an impact on us."

Fargo attorney Dan Phillips, who represented the locked-out workers, said he's disappointed American Crystal Sugar is trying to get the state Supreme Court to change its mind.

"Crystal Sugar is doing nothing more than trying to be punitive to its locked-out workers and punish them even further," he said.