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Laid off steelworker Dan Hill will attend Obama State of Union speech

HIBBING, Minn. -- Steelworker Dan Hill gave an emotional speech on the Iron Range last week when White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was in Virginia to hear the plight of Minnesota taconite iron ore industry. Hill talked about needing fast...

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Dan Hill of Hibbing, a laid-off millwright at United Taconite, will attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union address as a guest of Sen. Amy Klobuchar. (Bob King / Forum News Service)

 

HIBBING, Minn. -- Steelworker Dan Hill gave an emotional speech on the Iron Range last week when White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was in Virginia to hear the plight of Minnesota taconite iron ore industry.

Hill talked about needing fast action from Washington to save the U.S. steel industry and Minnesota mining industry that feeds it -- and he made such an impression with state and federal officials that he's headed to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address next month in Washington.

Hill, of Hibbing, will be the guest of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. The Minnesota Democrat said Hill's imploring McDonough to prevent his generation from being the last generation of miners on the Iron Range, was important in the ongoing battle to protect against illegally dumped foreign steel that is undercutting the market for U.S.-made steel.

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Hill, a millwright, is one of 400 steelworkers who have been laid off from United Taconite since August because there is no demand for the plant's taconite pellets. Hill said he wants the industry salvaged not just for him, but for his 7-year-old son, Riley, who told his dad recently that he wants to be a miner when he grows up.

"I told him (McDonough) to make sure our kids have a future up here. That we're not the last generation of miners," said Hill, a member of USW Local 6860, after last week's summit.

Hill said last week that he hadn't been optimistic about the future of the Iron Range and iron mining, saying he didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel for lost jobs to come back.

"But, after this meeting, I think the light has been re-lit," Hill said last week.

Hill even tossed two United Steelworkers of America shirts at McDonough and told him to pass one on to his boss in the Oval Office.

"On a level playing field, Minnesota's steelworkers can compete with anybody in the world," Klobuchar said in a statement Tuesday. "But illegal trade practices have thwarted our domestic industry and left many workers on the Range without a job to support their families. Dan has worked hard to make sure the White House understands the dire situation steelworkers like him are facing and I hope his invitation further strengthens this call to action."

Hill is accepting the offer to go to D.C.

"Thank you to Senator Klobuchar for inviting me to the State of the Union and for always fighting for us on the Iron Range," Hill said in a statement released through Klobuchar's office. "We must continue to push for action to stop illegal steel dumping so American steelworkers and miners are competing on a level playing field and good Iron Range jobs are available to our children and grandchildren for generations to come."

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The President will deliver the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 12 at 8 p.m.

Related Topics: MININGIRON RANGE
John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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