Graphics Communications International Union President James J. Norton struck a sour note in his Dec. 17 letter. He stated quite adamantly, "The essence of labor management relations in the United States is collective bargaining." That statement sounds wonderful down at the union hall, but the fact is that only 16 percent of the work force in America is union organized. As the vice president of a construction company, I am aware that the union's strong-arm tactics and government-assisted disruptive influence is waning, much to the benefit of the free-enterprise system.

The facts indicate that in today's business atmosphere the collective bargaining system is outdated and counterproductive to efficient industry. Employees who strive to improve themselves or work harder to earn more are discouraged from doing so by unions. Merit pay actively disrupts unions' socialistic platform and would eventually remove their purpose. The unions do themselves greater service by discouraging individual initiative, convincing employees that the employer is "out to get them."

In real practice competition in jobs and in contracts has proved to be the healthier method, and any employer with half a brain treats his employees with the respect they deserve both in compensation and dignity. DAN MILLER Bethesda