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Influence of the Unions, for Better and for Worse

October 30, 2003

Striking grocery workers are asking for nothing except to keep what they already have: reasonable health benefits. If their employer had gone to the union in desperation, asking for concessions to save the company and (hence) the workers' jobs, it would be understandable. But the grocery chains are instead openly seeking to break the union through a position of strength -- strength gained from five years of record profits.

It is high time that Americans rediscover their solidarity with union workers. It is unions that have brought us all a living wage, a modicum of health care and most of the other benefits we now take for granted. My grandfather was injured fighting for these rights in 1933. I loved him very much. My family will not cross a picket line. It is my fervent hope that this siege against unions and against all working Americans will be turned on its ear very soon, by whatever means necessary.

Duane E. Behrens

Rancho Palos Verdes

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What do consumers get from the supermarket strike? Longer drives to nonunion stores, standing in longer lines because more people are shopping at fewer stores, higher prices because there is less competition, less time with their families and more stress. After the strike, the consumers will probably get higher prices to pay for wage increases and health benefits, and maybe yet another chain going out of business ... leading to longer drives, longer lines, even higher prices, less time with the family and more stress. But, just in the nick of time, The Times tells us there will be a Wal-Mart superstore opening nearby really soon (Oct. 27).

Phil Beauchamp

Chino Hills

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In view of juggernaut Wal-Mart's efforts to wipe out its competition by driving the wages of huge segments of the labor force down near the poverty level (and graciously helping them apply for welfare and food stamps so all of America can subsidize Wal-Mart's profits), isn't it obvious what the best course of action should be for Safeway, Kroger, Albertsons and the rest of the supermarket industry? Shouldn't they be the strongest supporters of their unions and do whatever they can to help them unionize Wal-Mart?

Ira Spiro

Los Angeles

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