NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The United Auto Workers union called on Congress and the Bush administration on Thursday to get a loan to U.S. automakers to prevent their collapse before the legislature adjourns Friday.
"Congress must not adjourn with the Bush administration in place without an agreement," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "If there's no action, we could see the collapse of one or more domestic auto companies by the end of year."
In the middle of a press conference Thursday, Gettelfinger learned of a Detroit Free Press report that Congress had reached a compromise deal on a $25 billion bridge loan for the industry.
Gettelfinger said he remained "very hopeful" that a deal could get done, saying the cost of not acting would be devastating for the industry's employees and the U.S. economy.
"The current recession that we're in would be made much worse," he said, arguing states and cities that depend on the industry for revenue will be forced to end critical programs.
"The importance of this industry cannot be overstated," he added.
The UAW called on Congress to provide a low-interest bridge loan to get the companies through the end of the Bush administration until President-elect Barack Obama can put in place a bigger bailout package that will help restore General Motors (GM, Fortune 500), Ford (F, Fortune 500) and Chrysler to solvency.
"There may be disagreements about how to get it done, but surely it should be possible to work out a way to proceed," Gettelfinger said. "We need a compromise to be reached and voted on today."
Numerous critics of a bailout have argued that GM or any other automaker that can't sustain itself should use bankruptcy protection to make to become competitive, rather than depend on federal assistance.