Wisconsin Mining Association: Praises labor’s support of mining legislation

CONTACT:Kennan Wood, Executive Director
Wisconsin Mining Association
[email protected],(608) 444-9546

Labor Trades Organizations and Gogebic Taconite reach Memorandum of Understanding

[MILWAUKEE] Wisconsin Mining Association (WMA) congratulates the Labor Trade Organizations and the leadership of five leading labor organizations for their support of Assembly Bill 426 (AB 426), which regulates permitting and operations of ferrous (iron) mining in Wisconsin. Labor Trades — including the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 139; the Iron Workers District Council of the North Central States; the Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association and its Affiliated Local Unions; the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters and the Wisconsin Laborer’s District Council — today announced their of support AB 426, as well as the proposed iron ore mining project in Iron and Ashland Counties.

“This is a significant step forward for workers, job creation and the future of mining in Wisconsin,” said Tim Sullivan, former president and CEO of Bucyrus and now chairman of the WMA. “Organized labor and business are working together to do what is best for Wisconsin workers. We are pleased that these labor trade organizations, representing union workers from all across Wisconsin, were able to move beyond traditional partisan politics and support a plan that will create thousands of family-supporting jobs and help invigorate Wisconsin’s economy.”

Today’s announcement by the Labor Trades Organizations is part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the unions and Gogebic Taconite LLC. The MOU also includes an agreement on the part of Gogebic Taconite to employ union labor during the construction of the proposed iron ore mine in Iron and Ashland Counties. In addition, Gogebic Taconite agrees to use Wisconsin contractors for construction of the project. Gogebic Taconite also agrees to hire Wisconsin workers to carry out operations, including mining, processing and transportation. The company also announced that it will actively support the development of work force skills in the areas of mining and related heavy manufacturing to assist not only the current proposed project, but future mining endeavors in Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin’s labor organizations are dedicated to ensuring long-term employment for workers all across Wisconsin. Thousands of jobs, not only in Iron and Ashland Counties, but throughout Wisconsin, will be created during the development and operation of the Gogebic Taconite mine,” said Terry McGowan, business manager with the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 139. “But these jobs can only be created if Wisconsin lawmakers pass iron mining legislation that includes a reasonable regulatory framework. This Memorandum of Understanding shows that labor and the mining company can work together. We hope that Democrats and Republicans in Madison will follow suit.”

Gogebic Taconite has estimated that as many as 3,000 jobs will be created during the development and operation of the proposed mine in Iron and Ashland Counties. The mine is expected to operate for approximately 35 years.

“Wisconsin has an exceptional work force and this agreement with some of the state’s key labor unions will help create economic stability for thousands of families in every corner of Wisconsin,” said Bill Williams, president of Gogebic Taconite. “Now it is up to Wisconsin’s lawmakers to pass the necessary iron mining legislation so that these jobs will become a reality.”

WMA agreed, reiterating its support of AB 426.

“Today’s announcement proves that labor and business can work together to do what is best for Wisconsin,” said Tim Sullivan. “We urge Wisconsin lawmakers to promptly pass iron mining legislation so that Wisconsin can get back to work.”

The Wisconsin Mining Association is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) foundation whose goals include enhancing public awareness of, and appreciation for, the important role mining has played in Wisconsin’s past; the critical role it plays in Wisconsin’s current economic stability; and the massive potential it holds for creating good jobs and re-energizing the state’s economy in years to come.