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October 10-17, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

Obstructionist Docs

DR AVERILL ("Maverick Medicine," News&Views, Sept. 12) seems to believe that by allowing naturopathic doctors to order laboratory tests from his hospital, he will be lowering the quality of care his patients have come to expect. This sounds hypocritical to me because the lack of cooperation from his office is actually lowering the quality of care available to these patients. Every woman has the right to choose her primary health care provider, and if she should choose to work first with a naturopathic doctor—an adequately trained primary care doctor—then it is her right to do so. She neither needs nor asks for Dr. Averill's protection; she needs his cooperation to assist her chosen health care practitioner to provide her with the best possible care. To require her medically licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) go through another MD to order the laboratory tests only adds to her expenses and the length of time between the results of her tests and therapy. A naturopathic doctor would only request these lab results because he or she knows that the results would affect the course of the patient's treatment.

I am sure Dr. Averill knows that his routine rejection of these requests makes it all the more difficult for the naturopathic doctor to provide the individualized care that characterizes naturopathic medicine. His motives are not altruistic but an attempt to discredit and obstruct a health profession that focuses on the patient's whole health and well-being. Rather than learning about the real scope of naturopathic doctors and taking a holistic view of complementary medicine, he supports an atmosphere of distrust and disharmony which ultimately harms the patient rather than facilitates his or her healing.

S. Park, San Leandro

Hard Facts About CEMEX

THANK YOU for the Nūz column on the ongoing contract negotiations between the union workers in Davenport and CEMEX. There were, however, a few inaccuracies that I'd like to correct. The Boilermaker's contract did not "come up for negotiations in June"—we have been working without a contract since June. We began negotiating in February.

We have had five or six parent corporations in the last century, not the last decade. And the last two corporations were also multinationals, with facilities around the world.

CEMEX is not "proposing," but originally proposed that we work 12-hour shifts for straight time pay. While CEMEX never proposed "to limit disability insurance for on-the-job accidents to one month," they did propose that we be removed from our company health insurance on the 1st of the very next month should we become disabled, on or off the job. This change would have left our families without health insurance as well. It took us four months of extensive outreach and intense negotiations to get these and other similarly drastic proposals removed from the negotiating table.

I have yet to see evidence that scheduling workers for 12-hour shifts, with no overtime pay, is a "common modern practice" as your article suggests. Perhaps it is in some countries, but it is certainly not common in the U.S. or in California.

It is true that we don't want to strike. So far we have steered very clear of a strike. For example, we have chosen to stay at work even though it has meant working without a contract or an extension since June 20.

And we continue to negotiate with CEMEX, hoping to come to a reasonable agreement. We are even currently considering an offer from CEMEX that adjusts our pay a total of 4 percent over three years. Since the national average Cost of Living Adjustment is over 3 percent per year, we feel we are being extremely accommodating—if unwillingly so: our small Local Union is currently no match for a multinational corporation the size of CEMEX.

While all this may be "everyday business" for CEMEX, it is precisely these kinds of things that are new to us out here in Davenport.

More than anything, we just want to continue to come to work. Many of our families have worked out here for generations. We want to continue living and working here, and to continue providing for our families. But to keep doing these things we must develop a good working relationship with CEMEX, one based upon mutual respect. We are still looking forward to developing that relationship.

Eric Karo, Boilermakers Local D-46

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