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Minn. House approves Rep. Lislegard legislation to extend UI for Northshore Mining workers

Monday, January 23, 2023

Today, the Minnesota House passed legislation authored by Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL – Aurora) to extend Unemployment Insurance benefits for workers who lost their jobs due to the idling of Northshore Mining. The bill would offer an additional 26 weeks of benefits for over 400 workers who were either laid off by Northshore Mining or associated businesses offering goods and services to Northshore, namely in the explosive manufacturing industry.

“I’m incredibly proud we worked together to expedite this UI extension, which – for the impacted workers – will serve as a bridge to Northshore hopefully reopening this spring,” Rep. Lislegard said. “The Iron Range has been tested before, but our region is resilient. Right now though, workers, their families, and their communities have been looking to us at the Capitol to quickly deliver this urgent economic support. Passing this bill quickly sends a strong message that we’re committed to supporting Minnesotans during times of adversity, and I look forward to the governor signing the legislation swiftly.”

“Minnesotans help each other out during tough times, and that’s what we’re doing with this legislation. Extending unemployment insurance for these workers will help not just their families make ends meet, but also will help support the local community and economy,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “I’m grateful to Representative Lislegard and Senator Hauschild for their quick work to get this bill to the Governor’s desk.”

“This Legislature is taking swift action to support workers and their families,” said Majority Leader Jamie Long. “I’m grateful for the leadership of Rep. Dave Lislegard and his tireless work standing up for the Iron Range. Rep. Lislegard’s bill provides a lifeline for hundreds of workers and their families who are suffering through no fault of their own. Minnesotans care about one another, and we help each other out in times of crisis.”

The Senate has already approved the bill, and Rep. Lislegard has worked closely with Sen. Grant Hauschild (DFL – Hermantown), the Senate author, to advance the legislation.

"I commend Rep. Lislegard for his hard work and thank him for joining me in passing this overdue legislation," Sen. Hauschild said. "As a former miner who was laid off when LTV closed in 2001, Rep. Lislegard understands the pain that these miners and their families are feeling. His urgency to deliver relief for our miners is a strong testament to his character and proof that he'll never forget where he came from."

Last May, Cleveland Cliffs announced operations at Northshore Mining, which operates a mine in Babbitt and a pellet plant in Silver Bay, would temporarily shut down. Last July, Cliffs announced NorthShore will remain idle through at least this April of this year. Given the timeline of events, many workers exhausted their regular benefits in November. The benefit extension in the bill would be offered retroactively to August 14.

The legislation now goes to Governor Walz for his anticipated signature.