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Cliffs Enters into a Tentative Labor Contract

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Mining company Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF - Free Report) has entered into a tentative 3-year labor agreement with the United Steelworkers Union (USW). The new contract will cover roughly 300 workers at Cliffs' Bloom Lake mine in Fermont, Quebec.

This new contract is pending ratification by United Steelworkers local union memberships. However, no additional details regarding this ratification were released.

Over the past few months we have seen metal companies entering into labor agreements. Specialty steel manufacturer Universal Stainless & Alloy Products Inc. (USAP - Free Report) , metal alloys maker Haynes International Inc. (HAYN - Free Report) and AK Steel Holding Corporation (AKS - Free Report) are the other companies who have signed labor contracts since March this year.

Earlier last month, Universal Stainless entered into a 5-year collective bargaining agreement with its hourly employees at the Bridgeville plant represented by Local 9531 of the United Steelworkers. Around the same time, Haynes International revealed that the United Steelworkers Local 2958 (USW) membership has ratified a 5-year collective bargaining agreement covering roughly 505 employees at its Kokomo plant and Lebanon service center in Indiana.

In late March, AK Steel announced that the members of United Auto Workers (UAW), Local 3642, have ratified a new three-year labor agreement. The agreement covered about 330 hourly production and maintenance employees at AK Steel's Coshocton (OH) Works.

Cliffs, in Oct 2012, had entered into a three-year tentative labor contract with the USW that covered roughly 2,400 USW-represented workers at Cliffs' Empire and Tilden mines in Michigan and its United Taconite and Hibbing Taconite mines in Minnesota.  

Cliffs reported its second-quarter 2013 results on Jul 25. The company’s net earnings of 82 cents per share dropped roughly 55% from $1.81 a year ago. Net income (attributable to common shareholders) declined 48% year over year to $133 million, hit by a decline in global iron ore prices and higher costs.

The results include $68 million asset impairment charges related to the write down of Cliffs' Amapa investment as well as income tax expense of $9 million. Barring one-time items, earnings of $1.13 per share topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 61 cents.

Sales for the quarter came in at $1,488.5 million, down roughly 6% from $1,579.4 million in the prior-year quarter. However, it exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,436 million. An 11% decline in global iron ore pricing led to reduced sales in the quarter.

Cliffs currently retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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