Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers (USW), condemned Thursday night's U.S. Senate vote that rejected the proposed auto industry bridge loan being supported by the United Auto Workers, the White House and the Democratic leadership.

"We have hope that the Bush Administration and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will respond to the Republican Senate leadership failure to save America's auto industry and the millions of manufacturing workers who will be affected," the USW president declared.

He said the USW represents more than 200,000 workers employed in the steel, mining, rubber, glass and auto parts industries who will likewise be thrown out of work. "I'm really annoyed that the Republican Party is ready to throw the auto industry overboard for the sake of their veiled attempt to force the big auto companies into bankruptcy so they can bust the labor agreements and push workers to accept the standard of living established by foreign auto companies.

"The cost of such a decision to America and the middle class would be enormous and would accelerate the financial free fall and growing recession from which we might never recover," Gerard declared.

The USW president explained that the Senate negotiations were progressing well on an agreement with the White House that had already passed with bi-partisan support in the U.S. House earlier in the week. But Senate Republicans blocked the legislation, effectively killing the bill by a vote of 52-35.

"Ultimately the truth of what the Republican Senate leadership attempted will become known, but at this point I can only state that the USW supported the auto workers union in not agreeing to allow the political minority to force active and retired workers in the industry to unfairly shoulder the burden of any restructuring."

Gerard is urging Secretary Paulson and or the Federal Reserve to use their current authority to prevent the imminent collapse of the auto makers and the devastating consequences that would follow for millions of workers and their retirees."