In deal with union, U.S. Steel spares hundreds of jobs at Iron Range plant

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It's been a tough year on the Iron Range so far, with several plants idling and one big mining company filing for bankruptcy, but there's one bright spot this week – at least for a few hundred workers.

When U.S. Steel announced in March that it would be idling part of its Minntac taconite plant in Mountain Iron, Minnesota, nearly 700 jobs were expected to go with it. Now, thanks to an agreement with the workers' union, 300 of those positions will be spared, according to the United Steelworkers Local 1938 website.

In order to soften the blow of the layoffs, Minntac will give some of its workers a 32-hour work week and put others on maintenance projects, the Star Tribune reports.

The paper says union leaders will meet with company officials on Friday to get a better idea of how the job cuts will impact individual departments.

It brings the number of temporary layoffs by U.S. Steel in the Iron Range down to just over 800. The company will be furloughing more than 400 as it idles another of its plants in Keewatin.

The company is not alone in its woes – Grand Rapids-based Magnetation LLC filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week, as decreasing iron ore prices create a sagging global market.

There were also reports that Cliffs Natural Resources would be reducing the workforce at its three facilities in Minnesota. However, it has since been reported that 95 positions will be eliminated across five facilities – two of which are in Michigan – and the implications for the three Minnesota sites are not yet clear, according to the Austin Daily Herald.

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