Panel approves bill requiring car labeling

September 26, 1992|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

The legislation proposed by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski to require all cars sold in the United States to carry a label listing where they were assembled and where the parts came from, has passed a major hurdle on its way to becoming law.

A U.S. House and Senate conference committee approved the American Automobile Labeling Act Thursday evening after making adjustments to combine Canada and the United States when displaying where the content of the vehicle originated.

Rachel Kunzler, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Democrat, said the change was made to reflect a long-standing free trade agreement involving the movement of automobiles between the two countries.

The automobile legislation was included in the U.S. Department of Transportation's fiscal 1993 budget bill and applies to all cars, light trucks and vans that roll off the assembly line on or after Oct. 1, 1994.

The conference report awaits final approval from both houses of Congress before it is sent to President Bush to be signed into law.

"It's time to stick up for America," Senator Mikulski said in a statement yesterday. "It's time to practice pocketbook patriotism."

She has said in the past that consumers are frequently confused by

the domestic auto industry's practice of having some models made overseas, importing parts for cars made in this country or Japanese automakers producing cars in the United States.

The label would require the following information:

* The city, state, and country where the car was assembled.

* The car engine's country of origin.

* The car transmission's country of origin.

* The percentage of the car's parts which originated in the United States and Canada. It also requires a listing of all countries contributing 15 percent or more of the parts used in the car, together with the percentage.

Rodney A. Trump, president of Local 239 of the United Auto Workers union, which represents hourly workers at the GM assembly plant in Baltimore, said that he was "elated" that the bill was advancing in Congress.

"Not because it's anti any country or people," he added, "but because it gives consumers the right to know where they are spending their money."

George C. Nield, president of the Arlington, Va.-based Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, maintained the labeling act was unfair because it does not properly reflect the total U.S. value in a car.

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