U.S. Steel lays off multiple non-union workers at Keetac, Minntac

Amid low steel prices, U.S. Steel reduced non-union positions throughout the company.

Minntac stock photo.jpg
Part of U.S. Steel's Minntac facility. Steve Kuchera /

U.S. Steel has eliminated a number of non-union positions at its Iron Range mines and taconite plants.

U.S. Steel spokesperson Amanda Malkowski confirmed the layoffs at both of its Minnesota ore operations — Keetac in Keewatin and Minntac in Mountain Iron. Malkowski would not say how many positions were eliminated but said all were non-union. WDIO-TV reported that approximately 30 people had been laid off.

In an emailed statement, Malkowski said the cuts were part of the companies "new operating structure" announced on Oct. 8.

That includes reducing $200 million from its annual fixed costs by 2022, the company has said. Meanwhile, low steel prices are also hurting the steelmaker.

U.S. Steel lost $84 million in the third quarter of 2019, according to financial results released last week .


"At the same time, we’ve been battling challenging market conditions, which means we need to truly become a leaner, more efficient organization faster," Malkowski said. "As part of this process, we are taking the difficult step to eliminate a number of non-represented positions in the United States, including at our Minntac and Keetac facilities."

The layoffs come just weeks after U.S. Steel idled one of its production lines at Minntac. At the time, the company cited "changing market conditions" and said no layoffs were expected.

Layoffs of non-union U.S. Steel employees were reported across the company Friday.

"We are in a difficult market environment right now. This is not lost on anyone here," U.S. Steel CEO David Burritt said during a Nov. 1 call with investors.

Keetac and Minntac mine and process taconite into iron ore pellets for U. S. Steel’s steelmaking facilities. Minntac produces approximately 16 million net tons of pellets per year, while Keetac produces approximately 6 million net tons of pellets per year.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at or 218-723-5332.
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