Northshore Mining employees unionize

19 July 2023

SILVER BAY Workers at the last nonunion taconite mine and pellet plant on the Iron Range have joined the United Steelworkers.

In a news release Tuesday, the union announced a card check of the approximately 400 workers at the mine in Babbitt and plant in Silver Bay on Tuesday indicating a majority wanted to join a union.

“We chose to unionize so that we can have a voice on the job, especially when it comes to workplace health and safety, retirement security and other critical issues that affect us every day,” Jason Curtis, a maintenance technician in Northshore’s concentrator, said in the news release.

In a statement to the News Tribune, Cliffs spokesperson Patricia Persico said United Steelworkers “has obtained a majority of support from the Production and Maintenance employees at Northshore in Minnesota. We respect the right of our Northshore Mining workforce to seek representation by the USW.

“Cleveland-Cliffs sees the USW as our partner, in Minnesota and throughout the entire country,” Persico said. “We look forward to expanding our very strong relationship with the USW in Minnesota.”

The Steelworkers have long represented employees at the Iron Range’s five other mines and plants, but the union fell short in organizing Northshore several times.

Northshore partially restarted in April after sitting idle for almost a year amid a royalties dispute and as the use of scrap metal in electric arc furnaces reduced the need for its pellets.

More than 400 of its 580 employees were laid off during that time.

Cliffs’ CEO has said Northshore is now the company’s “swing operation,” meaning it will go online and offline temporarily as dictated by demand.

In Minnesota, Cliffs also owns and operates United Taconite in Eveleth and Forbes and Minorca Mine in Virginia. It owns the largest stake, 85%, in Hibbing Taconite and manages it. U.S. Steel owns the remaining stake in Hibtac.

The Steelworkers represent employees at those facilities as well as many of the company’s steelmaking operations nationwide.

The union also represents employees at U.S. Steel’s operations in Minnesota: the Keetac and Minntac mines and pellet plants in Keewatin and Mountain Iron, respectively.


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