LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Union Caseinished your column, "The Case for Case-Ready" [SN, May 19]. It was a fascinating read [mostly] due to the minimization of labor in the equation.Let me set the stage. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 in St. Paul, Minn., [is among locals that] represent grocery clerks and meat department employees. Overall, our contracts have good wages and benefits. Just as important, the working

Union Case

inished your column, "The Case for Case-Ready" [SN, May 19]. It was a fascinating read [mostly] due to the minimization of labor in the equation.

Let me set the stage. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 in St. Paul, Minn., [is among locals that] represent grocery clerks and meat department employees. Overall, our contracts have good wages and benefits. Just as important, the working relationship with most unionized employers is positive.

The column in question concerned me. Your analytical approach to case-ready product appeared limited and focused on market conditions. The old arguments over consumer acceptance, cost, competitiveness and quality were joined by additional lines [addressing] value-added products.

While each of these items are legitimate topics for discussion, they pale in comparison to the larger issue: What happens to those men and women (translated "high-cost labor") who have made a career working in meat departments? What happens to good jobs that support the infrastructure and build the communities we live in? What happens to jointly trusted pension and health care plans that have no participants?

The potential for change in coming years is enormous. The future for thousands and thousands of cutters, wrappers and their families hinges on what happens with case-ready product.

The debate is interesting, but someone needs to invite those most directly involved to the [discussion]. The fight over case-ready will only be settled when all of us are able to find effective means of managing the dramatic changes set to take place in meat-market backrooms.

WILLIAM G. PEARSON president UFCW Local 789 South St. Paul, Minn.