Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. has reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year labor contract with the United Steelworkers (USW).
The new contract, which would be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2015, still has to be ratified by union members, officials said Friday. If approved, it will cover 2,000 miners and iron ore workers at Cliffs’ Tilden and Empire mines in Michigan, and at its United Taconite and Hibbing Taconite mines in Minnesota.
Both of Cliffs’ Minnesota operations are located on the Iron Range in the northeast corner of the state. United Taconite is in Forbes and Eveleth and Hibbing Taconite is in Hibbing, Minn.
The new labor agreement comes two years after restructuring began at Cliffs. The Ohio-based company sold coal operations in West Virginia and Alabama and idled or closed select iron ore operations across North America.
The USW members at Cliffs have been working under temporary contract extensions since their old labor agreement expired Oct. 1, 2015.
“We are pleased to reach a new labor contract that is fair and equitable to both parties, and provides Cliffs a competitive cost structure for future success,” said Cliffs President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves in a statement. “This agreement once again reinforces that we have more in common with the USW than we have differences, and we look forward to continuing our strong partnership.”
Cliffs declined further comment on the labor agreement, noting that USW members now must vote on the deal.