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1/18/2004

Union leaders dismiss Bush's manufacturing proposal

The Associated Press

EUCLID, Ohio — A Bush administration proposal designed to bolster the struggling manufacturing sector drew sharp criticism Friday from union leaders who called the plan “absurd election-year double talk.”
Commerce Secretary Donald Evans recommended the creation of a President’s Manufacturing Council and a new assistant secretary in the Commerce Department who would focus on manufacturing.
The administration also announced it has reversed course and now wants to keep a manufacturing assistance program targeted for elimination last year. The proposals come as the administration tries to fend off Democratic attacks over the loss of 2.8 million factory jobs in the past 31/2 years.
“The manufacturing sector is clearly recovering, and it has been recovering now for the last five or six months,” Evans said Friday before several hundred workers and business executives on the plant floor of Lincoln Electric Co. in suburban Cleveland. “We certainly believe we’re going to see more job creation in that sector of our economy in the months and years ahead.”
But Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, said the plan was inadequate and “merely recycles previously announced policies, and ultimately is not much more than a corporate wish list.”
The plan “offers nothing to keep jobs here at home, nothing to make sure that core workers’ rights are enforced in future trade agreements, and no real program to help workers who have lost their jobs,” Trumka said.
The Steelworkers union called the plan “absurd election-year double talk” and said it rolls back environmental and safety regulations that were place in the 1990s.