Steel Mills

Cliffs, USW Reach Tentative Labor Deal at Mining Operations

Written by David Schollaert

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. has reached a tentative agreement with the United Steelworkers (USW) on a new, 47-month labor contract for its mining and pelletizing operations, the company said on Friday, Sept. 9.


The new deal is effective Oct. 1 but does not go into effect unless a majority of the 2,000 union members represented under the new bargaining agreement vote in favor of it.

The new contract covers USW-represented employees at Cliffs mining and pelletizing locations in northern Minnesota and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

“Reaching a second labor agreement in less than two weeks reaffirms our great alliance with the USW,” Cliffs chairman, president and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said in a statement. “It also confirms one more time that we know very well our responsibilities as the supplier of choice to clients in critical sectors, such as military and automotive.”

The new, tentative agreement with USW-represented mine workers follows one reached last month with union-represented steelworkers. “We have now demonstrated twice why Cleveland-Cliffs gets things done and how we act: we negotiate respectfully, fairly, and privately. A strong workforce is critical to our present and future competitiveness, and we look forward to continuing our shared success with our USW partners.”

Both tentative contracts were reached before their expiration dates of prior agreements. The new tentative agreement with mill workers was reached on Aug. 27 – ahead of a Sept. 1 deadline. The contract with mine workers was not set to expire until Oct. 1.

The two tentative agreements cover approximately 14,000 USW-represented employees, more than half of Cliff’s total workforce.

USW leadership also cheered the tentative deal. “The proposed agreement provides important economic and contract language improvements that will improve working conditions along with the standard of living for USW members and their families,” said Emil Ramirez, USW District 11 director.

The union said in an update to members that the perks of the tentative pact improve current wages, bolster health insurance provisions for workers and retirees without increasing costs, and include a commitment from Cliffs to reinvest in the USW-represented facilities over the life of the contract.

The USW said that investment ensures that members’ safety, jobs, and benefits are more secure under the tentative agreement. “Cliffs has committed to a plan to invest in its USW facilities that will enable future generations of USW members to support their families and sustain their communities.”

Tentative or ratified labor contracts have been reached at Canadian steelmakers Algoma and Stelco as well. The only outstanding labor talks are between the USW and US Steel.

A prior agreement between the union and the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker expired on Sept. 1. Negotiations have extended past the deadline.

By David Schollaert,

David Schollaert

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