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Free trade with S. Korea a risk to auto jobs, lawmaker says

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Free trade with S. Korea a risk to auto jobs, lawmaker says

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

Detroit -- U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton told the United Auto Workers today that she is trying to block a proposed free trade agreement with South Korea, saying it could cost thousands of jobs in the U.S. auto industry.

Sutton, D-Ohio, was a chief architect of the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program last year, which helped shore up car and truck sales in the United States amid the recession.

"While it was officially called the Cars Act, it was about more than cars," Sutton told delegates to the union's national convention at Cobo Center. "It was about UAW members ... it was about our communities that depend on auto-related jobs."

Sutton said the act was not about protecting U.S. automakers. She said the scrappage program created or saved 60,000 jobs in the United States.

But she said many of those jobs are now threatened by a proposed trade agreement with South Korea.

"(It) threatens the jobs of tens of thousands of American autoworkers," she warned, noting that more than 90 percent of cars sold in Korea are manufactured there.

"That doesn't sound like trade to me," she said. "It seems that only our market needs to be open -- and that needs to change ... We don't need an advantage, we just need a fair shake."

Sutton's district includes Ford's Ohio Assembly Plant, which produces the E-series van, and Ford's Cleveland Engine Plant.

Sutton also thanked outgoing UAW President Ron Gettelfinger for his service to his members and the nation.

"You have made a difference," she said, "and you will not be forgotten."

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100614/AUTO01/6140398/1148/auto01/Free-trade-with-S.-Korea-a-risk-to-auto-jobs--lawmaker-says#ixzz0qrOcOC9r

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Nice to see at least a few people are waking up.

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