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Unemployment benefits running out for Northshore Mining employees

Ely Echo - Staff Photo -
Lead Summary

State Senator-elect Grant Hauschild (DFL—Hermantown) said State Representative-elect Roger Skraba they will press to extend Unemployment Insurance benefits for workers laid off because of Northshore Mining’s ongoing idling when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
For Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich, the decision to extend the benefits is a no-brainer.
“I absolutely hope they would since Senator Tom Bakk and Rep. Rob Ecklund both had that in the works prior. But I hope they do more than just that and come through for the area. We need a strong backbone and it’s not looking very good here for jobs. We need more than just seasonal tourist jobs,” said Zupancich.
“The state Legislature failed to ensure that laid off miners have the Unemployment Insurance benefits that they deserve,” said Hauschild. “When the Senate convenes in January, one of my first actions will be to push for unemployment benefits for hardworking miners who’ve been laid off due to the idling of Northshore Mining.”
Skraba still faces a recount that starts on Monday but said he will push for extending the benefits in January.
“I agree with what Grant is trying to do, it is paramount that we act on this immediately,” said Skraba. “I’m surprised the governor hasn’t called a special session but I will support retroactive payments from when they lost their benefits.”
In May, Cleveland-Cliffs idled operations at Northshore Mining, laying off workers at its pellet plant in Silver Bay and mine in Babbitt.
In July, Cliffs announced that the facilities will remain idle through at least April 2023. Most impacted workers at Northshore will exhaust their unemployment benefits this month before the next regular legislative session convenes in January.
The proposed legislation would provide up to 26 additional weeks of unemployment benefits to approximately 410 iron ore mining industry workers who will be impacted when their benefits run out this month. Those who work for firms providing goods or services to the iron ore mining industry and lost their jobs because of the idling would also be eligible.
The extended benefits wouldn’t be used to determine the future unemployment tax rate for a business, and workers eligible for Trade Readjustment Allowance assistance benefits wouldn’t be eligible. The benefits would be retroactive to when a workers’ benefits ended in late November.

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