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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

'Two-Tier' System a Bitter Defeat for Labor

March 05, 2004

Re "The Plight of 'Tier Two,' " editorial, March 2: A "two-tiered" wage system! What a great way to divide your workforce, having two groups of employees doing the same job for two different pay scales. All of the experienced veterans will be looking over their shoulders wondering who is going to take their hours or their jobs. Management will be counting the days until they are gone so they can increase their year-end bonuses. It undoubtedly will create a very unpleasant work environment, as well as an unpleasant shopping experience.

If there is any justice in this world, some lower "tiered" executive will soon knock Steve Burd from his post as Vons' chief executive and replace him.

Ron Diton

Upland

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Since Oct. 11, I have avoided Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons and Pavilions, as they did not deserve my support during the dispute with the United Food and Commercial Workers union. After the union's caving in to a two-tier plan, I will continue to avoid these stores, but now it is the UFCW that does not deserve my support. The "I've got mine, you're on your own" settlement the UFCW has accepted, whereby a cashier tomorrow is not considered worthy of the salary or benefits of a cashier today, is not a victory for organized labor but another nail in its coffin.

David Albrecht

Los Angeles

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Clearly, we are at a crossroads. Our employer-based health-coverage system is crumbling under the weight of annual double-digit rate hikes. Plus, our safety-net system of hospitals and clinics is under extreme financial stress due to increased demand for unreimbursed healthcare services. The collision of these two conditions affects us all -- those with health insurance and those without.

To date, no meaningful solutions for healthcare reform have been proposed by our federal administration, and states cannot go this road alone. In California, 80% of those without health coverage are employed, and 13% earn $75,000 or more. This is not a matter of "us" versus "them." This is everyone's issue. We must move beyond political rhetoric to concrete solutions.

Robert K. Ross MD

President, California Endowment, Woodland Hills

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