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On behalf of the Hear Our Public Employees (HOPE) Coalition, I would like to thank Lisa Sorg and the Independent for the editorial "The ban is no bargain" (Up Front, Feb. 6).

The HOPE Coalition is comprised of 10 core labor unions and associations representing public employees who provide an array of services. We pick up garbage; build, clean and repair streets and highways; provide hospital care in state facilities; drive public transit and school buses; teach children and adults; protect residents from crime and deadly fires; carry out research; and many more activities benefiting North Carolinians.

The current ban on collective bargaining affects more than 600,000 public employees and their families. The ban also affects the public at large, since it compromises the efficiency of government services.

The HOPE Coalition looks forward to increased cooperation and improved understanding between management and employees. We believe contractual relations will provide for more innovative and higher quality services for the public, as it does in most other states.

HOPE intends to lobby during the next legislative session to restore public sector collective bargaining rights to their pre-1959 status. Anyone wishing to endorse our efforts may sign on to a letter to legislators at www.nchope.org.

Steve Hutton
Pittsboro

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