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Union workers, environmentalists protest Ford, GM at Detroit Auto Show

Jan. 18 (UPI) — Protests by environmentalists and unionized autoworkers at one of the largest U.S. automakers are interrupting the pomp and fanfare of the Detroit Auto Show.

The annual, week-long exhibition in Detroit’s Cobo Hall, formally named the North American International Auto Show, is one of the industry’s most prestigious events of the year. There, global auto companies display their newest models and plans.

Thursday, environmental activists brought inflatable, 10-foot tall dinosaurs to the hall to protest what they regard as excessive pollution from vehicles made by Ford.

The group said pollution emitted each year from Ford’s Explorer sport-utility vehicle is nine tons, or equivalent to the weight of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Protesters also say Ford has lobbied the administration of President Donald Trump to ease fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards.

Last year, automakers actually advocated for a single national standard rather than a rollback of prior standards.

The group and its inflatable dinosaurs returned Friday and will demonstrate when the auto show presents its “Charity Preview,” which is the glamorous, red carpet event to benefit local children’s charities. Their protest will coincide with two other planned demonstrations.

One, sponsored by the United Auto Workers, is a candlelight vigil to support unionized employees about to lose their jobs at General Motors. The automaker recently announced plans to close plants in Detroit and in Ohio. The closures are part of a GM plan to close five plants in the United States and Canada and idle 15,000 union and white-collar workers.

The vigil will be followed by a protest by the Detroit Coalition for a Green New Deal, which is calling for the city to take control of the Detroit plant and help retool it for “green union jobs.” Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is expected to attend.


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