Opposition to Bill's Plant-Closing Terms Renewed by Reagan

Times Wire Services

President Reagan today renewed his opposition to a plant-closing provision of the trade bill, saying Congress should not legislate a requirement that companies warn workers of planned shutdowns.

Shortly after his spokesman repeated Reagan's plan to veto the just-passed trade legislation, the President was asked what quarrel he had with the worker-notification provision.

"As an old labor union president, I suggest that's a matter that belongs in the management-labor contracts between the unions and the people," the President said. Reagan was questioned as he greeted Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for a private lunch.

Reagan is a former president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Substitute Bill Suggested

Earlier, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater told reporters that Reagan will veto the trade bill given final approval by Congress on Wednesday but wants to work with legislators to produce an acceptable substitute.

Fitzwater said the President, in a message to Congress that will accompany his veto, will "lay out his concerns" with the bill, including his objections to the provision requiring firms with more than 100 employees to give at least 60 days notice before closing down their operations or drastically cutting their work force.

Fitzwater said the White House did not expect to receive the bill until the middle of next week at the earliest and he could not say exactly when the President will veto the legislation. The President has 10 days on receipt of the bill to issue his veto.

Fitzwater said other objectionable provisions included the transfer of the President's trade negotiating authority to the U.S. trade representative and provisions he said required mandatory restrictions and retaliation against perceived unfair trade practices.

U.S. Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter also said earlier today that Reagan would veto the massive trade bill but congressional Democrats called on the President to "rethink his position" and sign the measure.

"This bill isn't dead yet," Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) told reporters today. "The ball is in the White House court. If there is a demise of this bill it will occur at the White House, not here."

Impact of Bill

The bill would increase the power of the U.S. trade representative to act against other countries that use unfair trade practices, make it easier to curb imports, repeal the windfall profits tax on oil companies and increase agricultural subsidies.

Byrd said the Senate has only about 90 legislative days left this year and has a heavy schedule. Asked if it would accept proposed changes from the White House, Byrd said, "We're not spoon-fed from the White House."

The governments of Japan and South Korea today urged Reagan to veto the measure. There was also a warning from the European Economic Community of retaliatory action if Reagan does not kill it.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
64°