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 →

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 →

Northeastern Minnesota celebrates its Labor roots

Maybe it’s just because I’m practically drowning in Iron Range history research these days, but Labor Day seems a significant holiday to mark this year. After all, we see workers standing for fair pay across the Mesabi Iron Range this week. Lately I’ve been writing a lot about the transition of the region’s economy, on… 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 →

Iron Range DFL legislative primary pits Lislegard against Hainey

With so many races in the 2018 Minnesota primary, I’ve not spent much time analyzing the only legislative primary on the Mesabi Iron Range. It’s an interesting contest that will test some of my earlier theories about Iron Range politics in a new more volatile electoral environment. DFLers in House District 6B head to the… Read More →

Niskanen brings Stanley Cup home on the Range

I was talking to a friend this weekend. He told me that he watched a hockey game earlier that day. Hockey, I said. It’s July. But I caught myself. Of course they’re playing hockey in July. It’s Minnesota. Right now thousands of minivans criss-cross our verdant summer landscape. Each vessel aims for a parking lot… Read More →

Finland’s whitetail deer have Iron Range roots

Finnish-Americans gave Northern Minnesota saunas, labor activism and light switches that are on the outside of the room for some reason. But few here know they also gave the “old country” more whitetail deer than they can shoot. Right now about 100,000 whitetail deer roam the Finnish countryside. In 1934, that number was a cold,… Read More →

Summer 2018 brings color to Range communities

I drive through Nashwauk, Minnesota, most days. It’s a nice little town, but a little worn down. That’s not unusual for the cities of the western Mesabi Iron Range. These boom towns bloomed in a white pine wilderness a century ago, each at the mouth of a specific iron mine. Now that mining is more… Read More →

The dislocated workers we choose to ignore

NEWS FLASH: Officials today announced the shutdown of a major taconite mine on the Mesabi Iron Range. More than 700 workers will lose their jobs in the midst of an uncertain future for their industry. Here on the Iron Range, stories like this get our attention. We’ve been through them before. Everyone knows what to… Read More →

Open legislative seat spurs Iron Range DFL primary

We sense many disturbances in the 2018 Iron Range political force. (Apologies. It is May the Fourth after all). Setting aside the roaming Death Star of Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District race, the Mesabi Iron Range also stumbled into an open legislative seat in District 6B. Current State Rep. Jason Metsa is running for the aforementioned… Read More →