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CNN Today

Car Talk: Labor, Management Clash Over PNTR

Aired May 24, 2000 - 2:07 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: In many instances, trade with China is pitting the executive suite against the factory floor.

CNN's Ed Garsten has an example from the auto industry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED GARSTEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A billion people -- that's a tantalizing market for U.S. automakers, and, they say, the way to tap that mother lode is through normalizing trade with China.

MUSTAFA MOHATAREM, CHIEF ECONOMIST, GENERAL MOTORS: China is a relatively small market for autos right now. Total vehicle sales are about 1.6 million. That is projected to grow roughly 10 percent a year.

GARSTEN: But the men and women who build cars and trucks in the United States are saying: Here we go again in protesting the trade agreement, saying the North American trade agreement cost 200,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs, and normalizing trade with China will add to that number.

RICHARD SHOEMAKER, UNITED AUTOWORKERS UNION: We're fearful that, in this instance, that the only people that are gong to benefit are the multinational corporations and the Chinese government, not the Chinese workers, not American workers.

GARSTEN (on camera): The automakers discount the UAW's predictions of mass job losses. They say it didn't happen as a result of NAFTA, and it won't happen as a result of a trade agreement with China.

(voice-over): GM says, if anything, more work should be generated for U.S. autoworkers.

MOHATAREM: We are already looking to see the possibility of whether we can get import licenses to start exporting some Cadillacs.

GARSTEN: One leading analyst says, on balance, both NAFTA and normalizing trade with China are good for the overall economy, including employment.

DAVID COLE, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Certainly some jobs went to Mexico, and some more jobs will go, but what it has led to is a further expansion of our economy and the creation of far more jobs than we have lost.

GARSTEN: Incensed with Vice President Al Gore's support for PNTR, the 846,000-member union has withheld its expected endorsement of his presidential bid. In a statement, UAW president Stephen Yokich saying, in part, that while Gore tells labor that "he believes human rights, workers' rights and environmental protections should be included in core trade agreements, the vice is holding hands with the profiteers of the world while lobbying for PNTR for China."

The union is bracing itself, though, for the new trade environment and will be counting on the automakers to make sure only vehicles, not jobs, are shipped to China.

Ed Garsten, CNN, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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