U.S. Steel laying off remaining workers at Keewatin plant

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Another batch of taconite workers are losing their jobs on Minnesota's Iron Range.

U.S. Steel has notified the state that the remaining workers at its plant in Keewatin will be laid off in October, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

Many of the 412 union workers at the Keetac operation were laid off in May when U.S. Steel idled the plant amid the nation's surplus of steel and iron.

Some stayed on the job, though, doing maintenance work. They're now also being sent home according to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice U.S. Steel filed with the state, the News Tribune says.

Keewatin's situation is different than that in Mountain Iron, where U.S. Steel called furloughed workers back to its Minntac plant this month.

The reduced demand for steel means output at the mills has slowed and supplies of iron have piled up. U.S. Steel cited its inventory levels in explaining the additional Keetac layoffs, the News Tribune says.

Meanwhile, U.S. Steel and Arcelor Mittal, which operates the Minorca mine near Virginia, are working on a new labor agreement with the United Steelworkers union.

Since the start of September they've been working under the terms of their expired contract. Contract negotiations in Pittsburgh broke down earlier this month, but talks are scheduled to resume next week.

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