Grandpa and the way home

At one time my grandpa kept a bar in his house in Keewatin, a small wood-paneled room full of 1950s and ‘60s sports memorabilia, Norwegian flags and light-up beer signs. In 1990 or so, I think I was around 10, he showed me the things on the shelves and said “I’m dying. One day all… Read More →

Prairie River Minerals aims to restart scram mining on western Mesabi

Amid high demand and temporarily limited global supply, another new scram mining venture aims to reclaim natural iron ore on the western Mesabi Iron Range. Prairie River Minerals seeks to mine about 1.3 million tons of iron ore annually, mostly in Itasca County, hiring about 125 union workers in the process. The chief partners in… Read More →

Steelworkers reach tentative agreement with U.S. Steel

The United Steelworkers of America and U.S. Steel reached a tentative labor contract agreement on Monday, Oct. 15. Union leaders will now present the terms of the deal to their membership for a ratification vote. About 14,000 workers at mills and mines across America would work under this contract. Steelworkers leadership seemed pleased and optimistic… Read More →

Glimmers of hope in Steelworkers negotiations

Late last week, the United Steelworkers reached an agreement with Cleveland-Cliffs on a labor contract. Broadly speaking, the talks between Cliffs and the USW seemed to go well. The company acknowledged the improving state of the domestic iron ore and steel business, and shared some of the success with its workers. However, more contentious negotiations… Read More →

U.S. Steel balancing act offers economic warning

As the United Steelworkers union and U.S. Steel inch toward a strike, many on Minnesota’s Iron Range wonder why. The economy is good. Steel is selling for a high price. So, why is U.S. Steel playing hardball with its workers? The answer exposes some concerning facts not just in the steel industry, but across corporate… Read More →

Union works past deadline, but prepares for strike

All the mines on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range run hot today, despite the expiration of labor contracts at facilities owned by U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal last night. The United Steelworkers of America agreed to stay on the job while negotiations continue. The union represents workers at mines and mills throughout the North American steel industry…. Read More →

United Steelworkers to rally Thursday over contract talks

On Thursday, Aug. 30, members and supporters of the United Steelworkers will hold rallies and demonstrations across the Mesabi Iron Range. They seek to bring attention to the union’s ongoing impasse with major steelmakers over a new labor contract. This story highlights a critical moment in the economic recovery that reached the Iron Range in 2016,… Read More →

Steelworkers contract talks test strong market

This month contract negotiations opened between the United Steelworkers of America and two big steelmakers, U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal. Already, the union says the two sides are far apart. Workers hope for a better outcome than the last labor negotiations in 2015. That contract froze pay and added costs to retirees. However, it also held… Read More →

Iron Range parades, street dances and fireworks

As a young kid I marched in the Keewatin Fourth of July parade as a patriotic penguin, Donald Duck, and other flag-festooned creatures. As an older kid I remember piling into a car with my friends, touring Range towns for street dances and fireworks. Before cell phones we would often try to anticipate where we… Read More →

Just nine miles remain on ‘Cross-Range Expressway’

I’ve told this story before, but my grandfather served on the Keewatin City Council in the 1960s. One of the most important pieces of city business at the time was largely out of his control. The state of Minnesota decided to rebuild Highway 169 as a four-lane highway, bypassing the city of Keewatin and many… Read More →