"Would these be Union jobs?"

We receive a lot of questions about union jobs and the PolyMet proposal, including this question from an IBEW member over email:

"Has PolyMet signed an agreement to recognize the Steelworkers as the representatives of the mine workers? Have they hinted at that? Not said anything? Just sort of implied they'd do that? And what about the initial construction? Is there a Project Labor Agreement in place with the Building Trades? I hear talk of good paying union jobs. Is there any meat on those bones?"

We reached out to respected local journalist and Range historian Aaron Brown with the question. Here is his response, published with permission:

"PolyMet signed a project labor agreement with the building trades in 2007. There's little doubt they'd use union labor for construction if the project moves forward. But there is no agreement with the Steelworkers for representation of the miners. In fact, the Steelworkers issued a caution over the anti-union practices of Glencore, PolyMet's chief investor and likely future owner. Any representation at PolyMet would have to go through the normal organization process, which means whoever Glencore hires would get an up or down vote on union representation. It's too soon to say whether the miners would be unionized, but we do know Glencore has a mixed-to-poor history of working with unions. I view the prospects of a vote at PolyMet as 50/50, given the increasing tools companies like Glencore have to weed out union sentiment in the hiring process." -- Aaron Brown, MinnesotaBrown

Yes, we at DFCW oppose PolyMet as unsafe for Minnesota on its face, but we also support unions and union jobs, so this strikes us an important conversation requiring more attention. What assumptions are being made about the company's claims, and are they well-founded?