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Cliffs, Steelworkers reach agreement

October 11, 2012
By JACKIE STARK - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Cliffs Natural Resources announced Wednesday it had reached a tentative agreement with the United Steelworkers on a new, 37-month labor contract that will cover approximately 2,400 USW-represented workers at Cliffs' Empire and Tilden mines as well as two Minnesota mines.

David Blake, Cliffs senior vice president of North American Iron Ore Operations, said Cliffs was happy with the new tentative agreement.

"We are pleased to reach a new tentative labor contract that is fair and equitable to both parties, and provides Cliffs a competitive cost structure for future success," Blake said in a written statement. "Cliffs' most valuable resource is our employees, and we look forward to continuing our strong partnership."

The Steelworkers and Cliffs held talks for four weeks in August, but were unable to come to an agreement and negotiations stalled just as the prior labor contract expired Aug. 31.

Both Cliffs and the Steelworkers agreed then to a rolling extension of their previous labor contract. On Sept. 1, Cliffs announced a temporary break from negotiations, which were taking place in Pittsburgh.

Both parties also agreed to provide a written notice 48 hours in advance of a strike by the union or a lockout by Cliffs.

The organizations met to resume talks on Monday in Duluth after taking a one-month break from the negotiating table.

The agreement must now be ratified by each local USW group.

Representatives from the Steelworkers Local 4950, which represents the Empire Mine in Palmer, and the Steelworkers Local 4974, which represents the Tilden Mine in National Mine, did not return calls for comment by press time today.

No further details on the contract are being released at this time.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.



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