Cleveland Cliffs and United Steelworkers reach tentative 4-year labor contract

October 1, 2018

Cleveland Cliffs and the United Steelworkers (USW) have reached a tentative agreement for a four year labor contract that would cover 1,800 union workers, officials announced late Sunday.

If ratified by local union shops, the tentative contract would cover USW workers at Cleveland Cliffs operations in both Minnesota and Michigan.

The operations include the United Taconite mine and plant in Eveleth and Forbes, Minn., Hibbing Taconite operations in Hibbing, and at Cliffs Tilden and Empire mines in Michigan. (Cliffs owns a third, nonunion iron-ore mine in Minnesota called Northshore Mining.)

In a statement, Cliffs officials said, Cliffs acknowledges the sacrifices of our members during recent tough times and now that the industry is prospering, looks to give its dedicated workforce its fair share.

In a statement CEO Lourenco Goncalves said, We are pleased to reach a new labor contract that is fair and equitable to both parties, and provides Cliffs a competitive cost structure for future success. This agreement once again reinforces that we have more in common with the USW than we have differences, and we look forward to continuing our strong partnership.

The new labor agreement comes after a tough restructuring in which a once downtrodden Cliffs sold off its Asian-Pacific ore interests as well as coal plants across the United States.

The remaining Cliffs is smaller but profitable and focusing on iron ore operations in Minnesota and Michigan.

Labor negotiations are ongoing for two other concerns with large ore-mining and taconite-pelletizing operations on Minnesotas Iron Range.

Tumultuous USW negotiations continue for ArcelorMittal, which owns the ArcelorMittal Minorca mine in Virginia. Talks also continue for U.S. Steel, which owns the Keetac mine and plant in Keewatin and the Minntac plant and mine in Mountain Iron.

Nationwide, USW talks with Arcelor and U.S. Steel cover tens of thousands of workers, including roughly 1,100 in Minnesota.

If ratified, the settling of a Cliffs labor contract will be welcome news to state officials who have been rattled by Cliffs ongoing and unrelated disputes with the state and Mesabi Metallics efforts to revive the former Essar Steel Minnesota operation in Nashwauk.

Cliffs has been embroiled in a number of lawsuits, in which it sued the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Mesabi Metallics and its predecessors regarding mining permits and leases. Some litigation is still making its way through the court system.

Dee DePass 612-673-7725

Update hourly