“Save our jobs, save our region”: Union workers gather for “Saving Our Jobs Rally”

Published: Oct. 29, 2022 at 4:15 PM CDT
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CHISHOLM, MN. -- Cleveland Cliffs has officially warned union workers who iron ore at the open pit mine in Hibbing, known as Hibbing Taconite, may close by 2025 or 2026.

“It will be devastating to my family, myself, my husband,” Desiree Sarkela, whose husband works for HibTac, said.’s husband works for HibTac, said.

“Save our jobs, save our region” - that was the message of about 100 union United Steel workers that work at Hibbing Taconite in Chisholm.

“This is real, and I think that is the message that needs to get out,” Michael Jugovich, a retired steel worker, said. “There’s a lot of people that’ll sit back and say that this will work itself out. It won’t without help.”

In response to the message Cleveland Cliffs gave about closing the Hibbing Taconite iron pit mine in coming years, the Iron Range marched together in a “Save our Jobs Rally” on Saturday.

“This is important. There are so many people that are going to be losing their jobs possibly,” Sarkela said.

The pit mine employees around 750 people, all of whom are now at risk of losing their jobs if the mine closes.

“449 million dollars annual impact on our economy,” Jugovich said. “You don’t replace that.”

They marched up Lake Street to the Chisholm Armory, where key note speakers talked inside about how the natural resources the Iron Range produces are essential to the entire state.

“I understand how important this for the entire region, the entire state. Because when we do well here, everyone does well,” Jugovich said

Families who were out marching said that the closing of the mine could be devastating, but they won’t give up hope.

“We still have a son that lives at home and it’s going to impact our whole life, my whole life,” Sarkela said.

Cleveland Cliffs released a statement regarding the response from the workers that reads in part:

“Cleveland-Cliffs appreciates the hard work by the USW and the local legislatures, Dave Lislegard and Julie Sandstede, for the company to get access to the state mineral leases at Nashwauk. We are confident that the governor, the State of Minnesota and the DNR will work with us to make Hibbing Taconite’s future secure.”