As USW reaches tentative contract with Cliffs, negotiations continue at other Iron Range mines

Virginia, MN
Virginia, MN(KBJR/CBS3 Duluth)
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:58 PM CDT
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VIRGINIA, MN -- Cleveland-Cliffs has reached an agreement with unions at 13 of its locations, including Minorca Mine just north of Virginia.

Representatives from USW Local 6115, representing Steelworkers at Minorca, have been part of the negotiations team in Pittsburgh since July.

“[The agreement] is good for the company. It’s good for our members, companies feel secure now for their customers. We feel secure for our members,” said USW 6115 President David Zasadni.

After several months of negotiations, he said he’s content with the tentative agreement.

“[There was a] big wage increase we wanted, which again was 20% over four years. That’s a big increase. With health care we did not take one step backward, our health care improved actually,” said Zasadni.

Their contract was set to expire on September 1, but they finalized the deal just before the deadline.

“We put a lot of things in there for the family and if you look at it for the young people, there are some things in there for them. And there are some people for the old bucks like me,” Zasadni said.

Now that an agreement has been reached, the union must ratify it later this month.

“It’s a finished product that I’m proud to bring back and explain to people and answer any questions or concerns they may have with it,” said Vice President Kyle Lamppa.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the Iron Range, there are union branches at four other mines still in the process of negotiations.

“Going off the last proposal from the company, we’re not too close,” said Steve Bonach, president of USW Local 1938.

Bonach said workers at Minntac and Keetac are currently working under an extended contract, as their old contract expired on September 1.

“As of 12:01 September 1, we do not have an agreement. but we do have both parties agreeing to do a 48-hour rolling extension,” he said.

As they try to close the gap around issues like better pay, he’s hopeful the success from Minorca is a good sign.

“Cleveland-Cliffs, kind of set the bar a little bit and I would assume that we’re going to be trying to go for something similar,” said Bonach.