Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

With the law on separation of church and state, why can state-owned schools have churches on the property? University of North Dakota has the Christus Rex Lutheran Campus Center, which is a church.

Shirley Haynes

Grand Forks

Thanks for writing! I forwarded your inquiry to the North Dakota University System. Spokeswoman Debra Anderson responded:

“The Christus Rex Lutheran Campus Center is located on land owned by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Eastern North Dakota Synod. Hence, this facility is not located on property owned by the state of North Dakota.”

Dear Teri,

I have a question regarding the locked out employees at American Crystal. At what point do they cease to be employees since they did not sign the contract? Does Crystal have to take them back if the union does agree to accept the contract?

Kevin Gross

West Fargo

Thanks for writing! I contacted Labor Commissioner Tony Weiler. Here’s what he said:

“My office has not had any involvement in this labor dispute. The first specific question asked, ‘At what point do they cease to be employees since they did not sign the contract?’ This question is difficult to answer, as I have never read the contract in question.

“In most instances, the collectively bargained for agreement between an employer and union employees will outline the relationship in great detail and perhaps answer this question. The North Dakota Labor-Management Relations Act (N.D.C.C. 34-12), however, defines an employee under subsection 34-12-01(2).

(Note: The definition is a bit lengthy. You can find the full definition here. However, here is part of it: “Employee” … includes any individual whose work has ceased as a consequence of, or in connection with, any current labor dispute or because of any unfair labor practice, and who has not obtained any other regular and substantially equivalent employment.)

“The second question relates to whether ‘Crystal’ has to take back employees if the union agrees to the proposed contract. Again, the answer to this question will most likely be dictated by the bargained for agreement between American Crystal and its employees.”

(You can read more about this issue in a story in the Grand Forks Herald.)

Do you have a question for a North Dakota state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505. Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.