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US Steel Eliminates Some Salary Positions at Minntac, Keetac

Updated: November 08, 2019 07:01 PM

U.S. Steel has eliminated some salary positions at two Iron Range mines amid what the company called "challenging market conditions."

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The company did not say exactly how many positions were eliminated, but sources put the figure about 30.

Job cuts at Minntac and Keetac are something that worries the entire range. Mt. Iron Mayor Gary Skalko said this is concerning.

"You're just wondering, hoping, does this stop here? Is this just salary or is it something that could continue on to the union level? So I hope that is not the case," said Skalko.

According to a manager who was let go today, 12 men and women were affected at Keetac in Keewatin. He said it was out of the blue and he had no notice. He said he went to work, and shortly after, was called into the office and told his position was eliminated.

The union president from Minntac in Mountain Iron said he was told it was a business decision to eliminate some managers. Steve Bonach estimates at least 20 were let go from his plant, which is biggest on the Range.

"It's a history of mining ups and downs but this one concerns me more," said Skalko.

In a statement, U.S. Steel said the cuts were a result of a new operating structure announced one month ago.  

"Leaders examined organizational structures, work performed, and spending to find opportunities to more efficiently execute our strategy. At the same time, we’ve been battling challenging market conditions, which means we need to truly become a leaner, more efficient organization faster," the company said.

"As part of this process, we are taking the difficult step to eliminate a number of non-represented positions in the United States, including at our Minntac and Keetac facilities. Unfortunately, this was a necessary step in the execution of our strategy which will deliver cost and capability differentiation to create a world competitive 'best of both' footprint.  It's always difficult when we have to say goodbye to valued colleagues, but these moves will allow us to better manage our resources amid challenging market conditions," the statement continued.

One production line at Minntac was shut down several weeks ago but there were no layoffs at that time. The line remained closed as of Friday.

"There's a little different tone to this with the world conditions, the recession, I think the tariffs to me play a part that really cause me some real major concern," said Skalko.

Now, the challenge will be for those who lost their jobs. Skalko said as a father of a former mine worker for U.S. Steel, this is hard. He said he plans on following up with U.S. Steel about this and said he has the workers back.

“I think they know we're behind them, whether it’s salary or a union, we're in this together. It affects all of us so hopefully it stops here and then we can move forward," said Skalko.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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