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Keep Co-op Cheap 

Editor:

Several letters have addressed the North Coast Co-op labor grievances but we should not forget that the Co-op was founded by shoppers, not investors, and its first priority is to serve the needs of consumers ("Co-op Conflict," Aug. 1). Many consumers are attracted to this idea and want to shop Co-op but the stores are no longer gaining significant market share in our area. Why? Many families with children want to shop but cannot afford the high prices. Also, a substantial group of older people who will pay a premium for high quality food are put off by the years of haughty service.

High prices at the Co-op are needed to cover the very high labor costs as a percentage of sales. Starting and base wages are reasonable at the Co-op but extreme seniority, work rule and benefit provisions drag the overall cost into a range that has bled any dynamism from the stores. Co-op employee earnings compare very favorably to other locally owned stores.

Co-op workers are not being exploited at all. Rather they are demagoging on the radical self-image of member-owners to milk the Co-op cow. Members unite! Lower prices now!!!

Chris Copple, Eureka

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