Trade Protesters Picket Outside GM Warehouse Near Reno

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A group of protesters marched outside a General Motors warehouse just north of Reno to show support for trade legislation designed to encourage companies to keep jobs in the U.S.

Rudy Viola, president of United Auto Workers Local 2162, said the discrepancy between American wage minimums and what companies
pay foreign workers threatens domestic jobs.

Viola criticized the North American and Central America free trade agreements, saying they set up systems that force companies and countries to compete on the basis of which can pay the lowest wages.

More than 20 protesters waved signs reading "Americans for Fair
Trade" and "NAFTA + CAFTA SHAFTA."

"This affects all of us in one way or another," Sam Lumpe, 68, a retired sheet metal worker from Reno, told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Viola said his group has collected 200 signed letters asking Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to enforce fair labor and environmental standards to protect 30 million to 40 million American jobs.

Among other things, union representatives said "fair trade" agreements should force businesses to pay a livable wage, allow a 40-hour work week, and protect communities and the environment.

The UAW went on strike for nearly two days before coming to a tentative agreement with GM last September.

"When your neighbor loses his job it's a recession, and when you lose your job, it's a depression," said Charlie Cox, a retired president of UAW Local 2162.
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-03-29-08 1932EDT