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Profits are nice. So are jobs. . . The United Auto Workers union was happy to hear about GM's $936 million profit in 1982. But UAW vice-president Owen Bieber says his union ''would be even happier if they were making that money building and selling cars and trucks.'' GM built 18 percent fewer cars and trucks last year than in 1981. Its total payroll dropped by 15.5 percent. GM now employs 30 percent fewer hourly-paid workers than it did in 1978. UAW is calling on the federal government, the Federal Reserve Board, and leading financial institutions to take ''positive action . . . to encourage people to buy cars so that GM and other manufacturers can make money on products, not services, tax credits, and foreign exchange rates.''

Where did GM's profit come from? From $18 million in tax credits, $211 million in earnings from finance and insurance subsidiaries, and the remainder from other operations not directly related to making cars and trucks.

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