A Labor Day tribute to construction pros

I would like to shine the spotlight on a particular group of hardworking individuals who often go unnoticed on Labor Day -- the construction industry's merit shop professionals.

United in their philosophy to uphold fair and open competition, they also seek to deliver the best product at the best price: a credo that all communities can benefit from during economic recovery.

Highly skilled and trained, merit shop professionals perform a wide variety of jobs in the commercial construction industry, including carpenters, electricians, painters and plumbers.

The evidence of their hard work is all around us. They create community infrastructure, such as the Jack London Square Amtrak station; renovate our parks, such as Washington Manor Aquatic Park in San Leandro; build new schools for our children, such as Pine Valley Middle School in San Ramon, and so much more.

So, on this holiday, let's thank all of the construction professionals, regardless of labor affiliation, whose hard work shapes our communities and enriches our lives.

James Fitzgerald

Livermore Fitzgerald is the chairman of Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California.

Fodder for Times comics page

This is in response to the Aug. 16 letter from Sidney Steinberg, "Medical claims against Chevron are phony," referring to the Aug. 3 demonstration at the Chevron refinery.

Steinberg wrote, "I watched the smoke go up 1,500 feet. No residents received the smoke," referring to Richmond's pollution infusion from the 2012 refinery explosion.

Steinberg stated, "These 'eco-mobsters' receive big money from government jobs and grants from the government, corporations and unions. They overstate pollution."

This letter, and others by him, are a constant flow on similar themes and should be included on your comics page.

Norma J.F. Harrison

Berkeley

County doctors flee over low compensation

I'm very saddened by Dan Borenstein's column regarding the payroll of physicians working for Contra Costa County.

While I agree county staff physicians shouldn't be paid with misleading tactics of call pay, the context of the greater picture is that there's a large number of physicians leaving the county's employ, largely because physician compensation here is the lowest of any other Bay Area county, even including additional call pay.

Other local private organizations, such as Kaiser Permanente and John Muir, pay their physicians 75 percent more. Factoring in Kaiser's large sign-on bonus, you could say Kaiser pays its family physicians double that of Contra Costa County. Kaiser also offers better benefits and retirement.

Many physicians who've stayed with the county do so because of their loyalties in serving a largely disadvantaged socio-economic population not having the luxury of privatized insurance.

The health of these patients is typically very complex, with multiple medical problems. Oftentimes, they've been unable to access care until they're very ill and difficult to treat.

Instead of promoting the doctors serving this county's most difficult populations, despite very large pay discrepancies, Borenstein inflames the public against those very physicians.

Dr. Daniel Lee

El Cerrito

We never learn, so here we go again

Our adventure in Iraq the second time around was unfounded -- but look how they are doing now.

Afghanistan's replay after we ousted the Taliban with the paid-off warlords is also doing great.

After much material and human treasure, we have not learned that we should not attempt to be the world's policeman. I have a thought: Why not police our inner cities with our treasures.

Now on to Syria. Will we ever learn?

John Fitzgerald

Walnut Creek

BART employees work for public

Public employees work for the public and should not hold us ransom for pay and benefit increases. BART workers should get a "reasonable" wage, based on their job performance. They make above-average wages, which should be enough to pay for their own benefits -- like everyone else.

If they are unhappy at BART, they can go elsewhere.

Joe Wilder

Livermore