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REGIONAL- Financial relief is on the way to laid off Northshore Mining workers after Gov. Tim Walz signed the $10 million unemployment extension package on Wednesday.The House version of the bill, …
REGIONAL- Financial relief is on the way to laid off Northshore Mining workers after Gov. Tim Walz signed the $10 million unemployment extension package on Wednesday.
The House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Lislegard, DFL-Aurora and mirroring the one previously passed by the Senate, passed 127-7 on Monday. The bill provides 26 weeks of additional unemployment insurance for workers at the Babbitt mine and Silver Bay pellet processing facility whose original benefits ran out late last fall. Workers at the facilities were laid off in May 2022 after Cleveland-Cliffs closed the facilities. The extended benefits are available to those who have used up their original 26-week benefits and are retroactive to when those benefits ran out.
About 490 Northshore Mining employees and five employees of the Dyno Nobel mining explosives company are expected to benefit. The workers have been in limbo since last May when Cleveland-Cliffs idled both facilities in response to changing company needs and an ongoing dispute with the Mesabi Trust over royalty payments on ore extracted from Babbitt.
In a compromise with Republicans, the company will pay an increased future amount into the state’s unemployment fund based on the additional benefits provided in the bill. Both the Senate version, authored by Sen. Grant Hauschild, DFL-Hermantown, and the House version originally sought to exempt Cleveland-Cliffs from the additional unemployment tax payment based on precedent with prior extended mining layoffs.
Rep. Roger Skraba, R-Ely, signed on as a co-author of the House bill and issued a statement on Monday praising the bipartisan effort to help the workers.
“Today’s vote shows that we can accomplish great things when we work together and put the needs of Minnesotans first,” said Skraba. “This bill is going to help hundreds of miners in our area that have faced significant financial hardships through no fault of their own. It’s the right thing to do for these folks and their families and I am encouraged that we could get this done in the first month of the legislative session. It is my hope that this can bridge the gap until both the Peter Mitchell Mine in Babbitt and the processing facility in Silver Bay can get up and running.”
Based on prior statements by Cleveland-Cliffs, the earliest Northshore can be expected to resume operations is April, but as of yet the company has not issued any further information.
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