Department of Labor approves Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for affected workers at Magnetation; TAA provides training and education benefits and services to these workers

Lawmakers urged the Department of Labor to expedite approval of TAA petitions 

WASHINGTON, DC – Governor Mark Dayton, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with Representative Rick Nolan, today announced that the Department of Labor (DOL) has approved Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) petitions for steelworkers and miners who have been impacted by recent layoffs at the Magnetation plant. ‎The lawmakers urged the Department of Labor to expedite approval of TAA petitions submitted by workers from the affected mining operations.

“Steelworkers on the Iron Range urgently need help as they endure the serious economic consequences of illegal foreign steel dumping,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “I thank Secretary Perez for expediting benefits for laid off steelworkers at Magnetation LLC. But now we need to get to the root of the problem. We look forward to meeting with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough next week to discuss steps the Administration can take to fight back against the illegal dumping of foreign steel.”

“The hard-working steelworkers and miners who were affected by recent layoffs on the Iron Range received good news today,” Klobuchar said. “The Department of Labor responded to our call to approve these benefits, and now our Iron Range workers will have the support they need and deserve to help them get back on their feet.”

“Minnesota’s iron ore and steel workers are the best in the world,” Franken said. “But right now, many of them are sitting on the sidelines waiting for our mining operations—businesses that closed because of illegal foreign trade practices—to reopen. I’m fighting to improve the Range economy, and in the meantime, I want to make sure that workers who have been laid off can get the support and assistance they need. I’m glad that, at our urging, the Department of Labor is going to ensure that Minnesotans who were hurt by the closing at Magnetation will be eligible for critical training and education benefits.”

“We are grateful to the Administration for expediting our request for Trade Adjustment Assistance, as well as to President Obama for sending his Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, to the Range next week so he can report back to the President on how this crisis in our mining and steel industries is affecting our region – as well as our national economy and our national security,” Nolan said. “But first and foremost, we need to get the Iron Range back to work. To do that, we need to get at the heart of the problem, and put a stop to the illegal dumping of millions of tons of low-grade, foreign government-subsidized steel that’s flooding our domestic marketplace, costing us thousands of good-paying jobs and threatening the very existence of our mining and steel industries.”

Minnesota’s federal delegation and the Governor have worked together to secure immediate funding for job retraining and educational opportunities for affected Minnesota steel workers and miners. Yesterday, following meetings and discussions with the Governor and Minnesota’s federal delegation, it was announced that the White House is sending Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, the President’s top advisor, to the Iron Range on December 22 to discuss the steel crisis directly with affected workers, mining executives, business leaders, and local elected officials. McDonough will report back directly to the President after the meeting.

The full text of the letter that Dayton, Klobuchar, Franken, and Nolan sent in November is available below:

Dear Secretary Perez,

We write to request that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) expedite the approval of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits for recently laid off steelworkers at Magnetation LLC.

As you know, Minnesota’s Iron Range has been severely impacted by foreign producers dumping steel in U.S. markets. Over 2,000 mineworkers have been affected by a temporary or indefinite layoff announcement, representing more than 40 percent of the region’s mining workforce. We are grateful these layoffs have been approved for TAA benefits. With hundreds of training plans already on file, this vital program has helped many Minnesotan families avoid financial ruin.

Earlier this year, DOL approved a number of TAA petitions for various mining companies and facilities. We were disappointed, however, that DOL restricted TAA eligibility to just one of Magnetation’s four sites in Minnesota. As a result of that limitation, the recently announced layoffs at the company’s Bovey plan will leave more than 160 workers without access to TAA benefits – benefits that have long been available to workers at Magnetation’s nearby plant in Keewatin, among others.

When the Bovey layoffs begin in February, affected workers will need to know whether they can count on TAA benefits to help them make ends meet and access training programs. To provide that assurance, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) submitted a new TAA petition on November 18, 2015 to provide coverage to all of Magnetation’s Minnesota facilities. We strongly urge DOL to approve this petition and help resolve this unfortunate situation as soon as possible.  

Thank you for your help in providing economic certainty to thousands of Minnesota workers suffering from unfair steel dumping practices.