Latest Posts

Home

Facebook

Twitter

Search
About

Minnesota’s Rich Mining Tradition Still Runs Deep

Phil Warwas has punched in for the last time after more than half a century in the mining industry. But his story in the Duluth News Tribune points to the bright future ahead for thousands of younger Minnesotans just starting out, if and when the state finally allows environmentally responsible development of our world-class mineral resources.

He’s endured layoffs and yearlong strikes during that time, but stuck around to pursue his passion. Machining isn’t something he plans on giving up in retirement either — he’ll be doing plenty of it from his shop at home as a hobby.

“The machine shop held a lot of challenges, and it really made it interesting,” Warwas said. “I, for the most part, really enjoyed my job.”

The smile of Warwas’ face in the newspaper’s photo says everything about the lifetime of satisfaction and economic well-being he derived from working in the industry since he was 20. In a way, mining turned out to be the family business.

Raised on a farm near Bemidji but attracted to the high wages of Iron Range miners, Warwas joined his older brothers and went to work in the mines in 1965. Of the six Warwas boys, five worked in Iron Range mines.

Warwas was hired in May 1965 as a laborer at $2.28 per hour, but within a few weeks was driving trucks at $2.93 per hour.

“Big wages,” Warwas said. The federal minimum wage in 1965 was $1.25.

More than half a century later, the Bemidji native can take satisfaction in a job well done and passing on his skill set to the next generation of miners

At a retirement party for Phil in Keewatin’s Bernie’s Main Dry, Phil’s brother Lyle Warwas, 85, said he’s watched his brother grow up as a good, honest worker.

“I’m actually quite proud of my brother,” said Lyle.

Brian Haupt, a fellow Keetac machinist agreed.

“He’d give his right arm for everyone,” Haupt said.

It’s long past time to give the next generation of Minnesotans a shot at the high-paying jobs and benefits the mining industry provides.  American Experiment’s new report, Unearthing Prosperity: How Environmentally Responsible Mining Will Boost Minnesota’s Economy, estimates development of the state’s mineral resources will pump $3.7 billion into our state economy each year and provide 8,500 jobs. That kind of opportunity might just make Phil Werwas think twice about retirement.

Comments

Subscribe

Categories

Upcoming Events

  • YLC Curling Event

    Location: Chaska Curling Center 3210 Chaska Blvd, Chaska, MN 55318

    Grab your broom and stone and join the Young Leadership Council for an evening of Curling at the Chaska Curling Center! $40 registration includes: Instruction Ice time and equipment Appetizers (Curling Center Bar will be available to purchase drinks) The event will begin with 15-20 minutes of classroom instruction on curling rules and basics followed by 20-30 minutes on the ice for practice and drills. Instructors will be on hand the whole evening to guide your games. Dress Code: Bring a pair of clean-on-the-bottom shoes to change into. No leather soles or metal lace hooks Loose fitting or strechy clothes…

    Register Now
  • The Diversity Delusion

    Location: Hilton Minneapolis 1001 South Marquette Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55403

    Please join Center of the American Experiment on Wednesday, April 24th at the Hilton Hotel for a lunch forum with Heather Mac Donald as she discusses her new book, The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture.  Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and a New York Times bestselling author. She is a recipient of the 2005 Bradley Prize. Mac Donald’s work at City Journal has covered a range of topics, including higher education, immigration, policing, homelessness and homeless advocacy, criminal-justice reform, and race…

    Register Now
  • 2019 Annual Dinner Featuring Nigel Farage

    Location: Hilton Minneapolis 1001 South Marquette Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55403

    Purchase Tickets Here

    Register Now