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Steelworkers pushback on pro-Trump mayors’ claims of “thriving” Iron Range

EYE ON MINING -- Now that the dust has settled from Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Duluth it's clear,  Minnesota and its northern communities are going to be a priority for candidates this election season.

On Friday we heard Vice President Pence tout jobs and industry, including mining, as a priority for the Trump administration.  We also saw some historically-DFL voting mayors throw their support behind President Trump, saying the region is thriving for the first time in a long time.

But leadership for the United Steelworkers union disagrees. In a rebuttal letter, union representatives said,

"Our union believes those mayors are misguided and don’t fully understand the nature of the economics of the industry or the iron range. Just drive down the main streets of Virginia and Eveleth and count the shutdown businesses. It hardly seems like the “roaring back to life” that these mayors describe."

The union also pointed to the pandemic forcing Iron Range mines to shutdown leaving workers laid off. 

While most mines are now operational Keetac still sits idled indefinitely, something the union claims the president doesn't care enough about. 

"USS Keetac is still idle and its 260 employees on layoff. Yet somehow, the president and Republican-controlled Senate don’t care enough about Keetac workers or the other 16.3 million Americans who are unemployed to extend enhanced unemployment benefits through the end of the year."

The letter went on to say the Trump administration did impose tariffs on imported steel but for many workers, it was too little and too late.

The union wrapped up the letter by saying it's proud to endorse democrat Joe Biden for President. They believe he will fight to raise the minimum wage, expand access to affordable health care, civil and labor rights, and more. 

While presidential candidate Biden has yet to campaign in Minnesota, that could soon change.

During a fundraiser last week, Biden said he's planning to hit the campaign trail in person after Labor Day including likely visits to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other critical battleground states. 

Kristen Vake

Anchor, Reporter

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