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United Auto Workers backs Gore for US president

DETROIT (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers union Tuesday decided to overlook its dissatisfaction with Vice President Al Gore's support for normal trade relations with China and endorse the Democrat for president.

The Detroit-based union, with 1.3 million active and retired members mostly in key electoral states in the Midwest, said its International Executive Board voted unanimously to endorse Gore. UAW President Stephen Yokich said in May the union might back Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, but said Tuesday the consumer advocate did not have a chance to win the election.

"During the course of this campaign we have taken a long, hard look at the presidential candidates' positions and their programs for America's future," Yokich said in a statement.

"While two candidates have offered progressive, pro-working family programs, it is clear that only one of the progressive candidates can win this election -- and that's Al Gore."

"The UAW will go all-out to help Al Gore win this election," he said.

The UAW, a powerful industrial union, has endorsed the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate for decades. Its announcement came on the same day Gore named Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a strong advocate of pro-labor issues, his vice presidential candidate. UAW officials would not say whether that move helped Gore secure the nomination, saying only that the statement spoke for itself.

Yokich said Gore was on the UAW's side on the economy, workers' rights, education, the Social Security retirement program and Medicare health care program for the elderly, the environment, and other issues of concern to working families.

He also expressed hope that Gore, as president, would seek to outlaw the use of permanent striker replacements.

"Al Gore believes that unions play an essential role in the economic and political life of America," Yokich said. "Unlike (Republican nominee) George W. Bush, Al Gore understands that our economy works best when working men and women have a real say in the workplace."

He added, "In contrast, George W. Bush offers nothing more or less than a replay of the voodoo economics of the 1980s -- a trillion-dollar-plus tax cut that would make the rich richer at the expense of working families."

Yokich expressed disappointment with Gore's record on trade issues, including the vice president's support for a measure to provide China with permanent normal trade relations with the United States, as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.

"It's no secret that we disagree -- and disagree sharply -- (with Gore) on NAFTA and on granting China permanent normal trade relations," Yokich said. "Yet even on trade where we don't see eye to eye, Al Gore is better -- much better -- than George W. Bush."

Gore and Bush campaign officials could not be reached for comment.

The UAW, along with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, had held out on endorsing a candidate because of Gore's record on trade issues. While the Teamsters still has not issued an endorsement, the AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers previously endorsed Gore.

On Monday the National Association of Police Organizations, which represents over 230,000 active and retired law enforcement officers, endorsed Gore.

Reuters news material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.




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Tuesday, August 8, 2000

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