ST. PAUL (AP) -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty has instructed the state's Public Safety Commissioner to look into the possible use of temporary workers at Cleveland-Cliffs Mining Co. facilities in the event of a strike on the Iron Range.
Pawlenty "shares the concern of the Iron Range delegation" and has asked Commissioner Michael Campion to review the issue, said Pawlenty spokesman Daniel Wolter.
Cleveland-Cliffs is in negotiations with the United Steelworkers of America over a new labor contract for about 2,000 union workers at Hibbing Taconite, United Taconite in Eveleth, and the Empire and Tilden mines in Upper Michigan.
If an agreement isn't reached by midnight July 31, Cleveland-Cliffs says it intends to operate the taconite plants with the temporary replacement workers, who are training at the Northshore Mining facility in Silver Bay.
The region's DFL lawmakers asked the governor to step in. In a letter sent Monday, they wrote: "Governor Pawlenty, it would be in the best interest of the entire state if you would use your office to stop this nonsense. ... If contract talks do stall and Cleveland-Cliffs follows through on its threat, we want you to know we are fearful of the consequences. ... We hope you will consider our request and help avert a potentially dangerous situation. Rather than having to do something later like call out the National Guard, which is already stretched too thin."
The commissioner will look into the issue and report to the governor's office.
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