UAW's Gettelfinger pushes common ground

UAW's cave in speech?
UAW's Gettelfinger pushes common ground
United Auto Workers International President Ron Gettelfinger today said business and labor have a shared stake in corporate competitiveness and can work to find common ground in areas such as health care, international trade and climate change.
In a speech that drew a standing ovation at the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference, Gettelfinger said that advocating for workers doesn't necessarily mean advocating against employers. And he said that while workers need a voice, the union also knows that "employers have to be highly effective and productive to succeed."
Gettelfinger called for and supported trade policies that encompass human rights and environmental protections, saying such aspects "aren't business issues, or labor issues. These are moral issues."
He said trade policies also must be fair; for example, a proposed U.S.-Korea trade agreement will encourage the import of Korean cars into the U.S. but does not encourage the export of U.S. cars into Korea, furthering a trade deficit and potentially "robbing our nation and state of good-paying jobs."
An advocate for a universal, single-payer health care system, Gettelfinger said the United States' "continued failure to enact serious health care reform puts U.S. companies" at a significant and competitive disadvantage.
On climate change, Gettelfinger said that business and labor can play a role in addressing the issue. But, he said, "demanding drastic and unrealistic" fuel-efficiency standards won't solve the problem. He said cars and trucks are responsible for 16 percent of carbon emissions in the country but should not have to shoulder responsibility for the entire environmental solution.
He said the UAW supports an economywide "cap-and-trade" program to reduce carbon emissions; a fuel-economy approach in which larger vehicles would have different requirements than smaller vehicles; and efforts to stimulate new investment in the auto industry, such as a manufacturing tax credit for companies that build hybrid vehicles, other products and key components in the U.S.
Gettelfinger said a "realistic approach" to climate change, new health care system and more balanced approach to international trade are the "kind of issues where business and labor can find common ground."
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