MN House approves bill to extend unemployment benefits for laid off mining workers

The legislation now goes to Governor Walz for his anticipated signature.
Northshore Mining
Northshore Mining
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 4:31 PM CST
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ST. PAUL, MN. (Northern News Now) - The Minnesota House passed legislation on Monday to extend Unemployment Insurance benefits for laid off employees at Northshore Mining, according to a press release.

The bill, authored by Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL – Aurora), would offer an additional 26 weeks of benefits for more than 400 workers who were laid off due to the idling of Cliffs’ facilities in Silver Bay and Babbitt or associated businesses offering goods and services to Northshore, namely in the explosive manufacturing industry.

“I’m incredibly proud we worked together to expedite this UI extension, which – for the impacted workers – will serve as a bridge to Northshore hopefully reopening this spring,” Rep. Lislegard said. “The Iron Range has been tested before, but our region is resilient. Right now though, workers, their families, and their communities have been looking to us at the Capitol to quickly deliver this urgent economic support. Passing this bill quickly sends a strong message that we’re committed to supporting Minnesotans during times of adversity, and I look forward to the governor signing the legislation swiftly.”

“Minnesotans help each other out during tough times, and that’s what we’re doing with this legislation. Extending unemployment insurance for these workers will help not just their families make ends meet, but also will help support the local community and economy,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “I’m grateful to Representative Lislegard and Senator Hauschild for their quick work to get this bill to the Governor’s desk.”

“This Legislature is taking swift action to support workers and their families,” said Majority Leader Jamie Long. “I’m grateful for the leadership of Rep. Dave Lislegard and his tireless work standing up for the Iron Range. Rep. Lislegard’s bill provides a lifeline for hundreds of workers and their families who are suffering through no fault of their own. Minnesotans care about one another, and we help each other out in times of crisis.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also pushed to get the extension for the miners.

“After working with local legislators to push for the extension of state unemployment benefits, I’m glad to see this much-needed relief for laid-off workers in Silver Bay and Babbitt pass the Minnesota Legislature. This extension will help provide critical support for hundreds of workers, their families, and the entire community during this challenging time. I look forward to seeing it quickly signed into law. I want to thank Senator Hauschild and Representatives Lislegard and Skraba.”

The Senate approved the bill earlier this month.

Rep. Lislegard worked closely with Sen. Grant Hauschild (DFL – Hermantown), who was the Senate author, to advance the legislation.

“I commend Rep. Lislegard for his hard work and thank him for joining me in passing this overdue legislation,” Sen. Hauschild said. “As a former miner who was laid off when LTV closed in 2001, Rep. Lislegard understands the pain that these miners and their families are feeling. His urgency to deliver relief for our miners is a strong testament to his character and proof that he’ll never forget where he came from.”

Cleveland Cliffs announced in May the operations at Northshore Mining’s mine in Babbitt and the pellet plant in Silver Bay would temporarily shut down.

Then last July, they announced Northshore will remain idle through at least this April of this year.

Many workers exhausted their regular benefits in November because of this.

The benefit extension in the bill would be offered retroactively to August 14.

The legislation now goes to Governor Walz for his anticipated signature.