Cliffs, Steelworkers hold off contract deadline

The United Steelworkers have reached a temporary agreement with Cliffs Natural Resources to continue operations at three Iron Range taconite plants past tonight’s midnight contract deadline. This would prevent any work stoppages at the Cliffs-run properties Hibbing Taconite and United Taconite in Eveleth. Cliffs’ Northshore Mining is non-union.

Negotiations between Cliffs, U.S. Steel, Arcelor-Mittal and the Steelworkers continue in Pittsburgh to complete a long term binding labor contract. Still at risk are the operations of the Range’s largest mine, U.S. Steel’s MinnTac, and Keewatin Taconite. Arcelor-Mittal’s Minorca Mine may also be affected. If negotiations there sour today, operations at Cliffs mines would then be in jeopardy, too.

There is no official word at this time how far apart the parties are in their talks. Steelworker locals were prepared to begin the picket line tomorrow morning. But with the temporary deal it’s clear that neither party want nor are prepared for a strike, so operations will continue in the short run.

I was on MPR’s Daily Circuit this morning talking about this issue. The audio is embedded below.

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