VIRGINIA, MN — Minntac is now the fourth iron range mine to be impacted by COVID-19.
“We’ll work through it. My biggest worry is that more will go.”
Steve Bonach is president for USW Local 1938. He represents more than 1,200 union brothers and sisters at Minntac. Now, nearly 200 of them are laid off.
“Very frustrating, I know how they feel. I feel bad because I’ve been on that side of being laid off and you’re sitting on pins and needles.”
Bonach has worked at Minntac for decades and experienced multiple layoffs, but never during a health pandemic.
“This COVID-19 layoff is a different story. We don’t know.”
He said the changes happened fast and without much notice. On May 1st, the union was told there would be layoffs, but Bonach said it wasn’t until the cuts were implemented that some workers found out they wouldn’t be going back for their next shift.
“So we got calls all weekend on whether they were coming to work, not coming to work,” said Bonach.
He added, it has been tough, but there is a silver lining. Minntac is not shutdown which means people are still working and pellets are still being produced.
Bonach said the union meets with Minntac leadership multiple times a week and, as of now, they don’t anticipate more layoffs.
“I hope not. I’m not sure but you can never underestimate that. It could happen,” said Bonach. “I’m not getting that feeling right now. We’re keeping pretty good contact with the higher ups.”
He said he’s been told they are on schedule for one line that is currently shut down to re-start on July 6th and, he’s hopeful that will bring his union members back to work.
U.S. Steel President and Chief Executive Officer David Burritt released this statement in the company's most recent earnings report.
“Challenging days are ahead, but I am confident in the men and women at U. S. Steel who are continuing to make steel as a critical part of our nation’s infrastructure.” He added... “We remain calm and focused to ensure a stronger U. S. Steel for all of our stakeholders.”Statement from April 30, 2020 Earnings Report