Re "Ma Bell's Orphans" (April 1): Much has been written about the generous buyouts offered to management employees, but little has been said about hourly employees. We were told three weeks before our store closed its doors that the entire Phone Center retail distribution channel was going to be shut down by mid-April. Most people were shocked, especially the store managers. While many expected that some stores would close, no one thought the entire entity would disappear.

I was a part-time, nonmanagement employee with 12 years of service, and according to our union contract, I would receive only one week's termination pay. We were quickly told, however, that we would be carried on the payroll until April 22, even though our store would close in mid-February.

In the ensuing months, I have been overwhelmed by the genuine concern, support, and financial supplement that have been given to an hourly part-time employee. Not only was health coverage extended, but financial compensation doubled during the remaining weeks of work. In addition, AT&T continued to pay salaries at an inflated hourly rate for weeks after store closings, a decision that surely helped many avoid going on unemployment.

This does not happen in the real world of $6-an-hour jobs. Respect for individuals is a priority, and that is no hollow statement at AT&T. GAIL HALAVA Daytona Beach, Florida


Re "Surviving a PC Meltdown" (Your Desktop, April 15): I'm certain that any of the warranty or repair providers you refer to would be shocked to learn that you are giving instructions on dismantling and trouble-shooting PCs without any warnings on the proper grounding and handling of static-sensitive devices. The problems that you suggest could be "easily solved" by opening the case and pushing on boards and connectors can be tremendously compounded by improper grounding of components by the almost self-instructed consumer. Most PC products have some type of label that must be broken to enter the case, thereby voiding warranty claims because of the types of unexplained problems that can occur once an ungrounded self-repair "home tech" begins playing with the boards.

Many of the people we know who productively use PCs every day have no business inside their computers. Do you give out do-it-yourself TV repair instructions too? JOHN SCHRADER Lakeport, Michigan


After reading Stanley Bing's vivid account ("Long Day's Journey Into Pittsburgh," While You Were Out, April 1), we felt compelled to come clean and admit a long-running conspiracy to trap as many talented essayists in Pittsburgh as the law and Mother Nature would allow.

Our motives have always been noble. We wanted nothing more than to introduce Mr. Bing to Pittsburgh, symbol of reincarnation: A city once considered Hades' waiting room is now an authentic destination with a magnificent opera, a world-renowned symphony, delicious jazz, killer greens, and, yes, Pittsburgh International Airport, one of the world's newest and best-loved hubs.

Call it fate, Mr. Bing, or a systematic and expensive plan involving AWACS and the mysterious forces of El Nino designed to command fog as thick as cotton and other weather delays on a moment's notice. In either case, we're glad to see you've resigned yourself to a long love affair with our city. Call ahead. We'll be happy to show you around. R. TODD ERKEL Associate Director of Communications Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau Pittsburgh


In "GM: Why They Might Break Up America's Biggest Company" (April 29), FORTUNE erred in indicating that General Motors held EDS shares and that these were contributing to GM's value. More than half of EDS's shares are in the hands of the public, and GM has recently transferred the remainder of EDS to the GM pension fund. Taking EDS out of the equation would have produced an implied market value for GM's car and truck business of $15 billion, not $6 billion as stated.

Also, in the FORTUNE 500 list in the same issue, the one-year change in earnings per share for Federal National Mortgage Association should have been 10.7%; for IBP, 40.9%; for MBNA, 30.5%; and for Safeway, 36.7%. The correct ten-year annual EPS growth rate for United Parcel Service is 8.1%, and the one-year change in revenues for Mirage Resorts is 6.1%. FORTUNE regrets the errors. [BOX]

UNCLE MOSHE REFLECTS ON GM I am writing on behalf of my uncle Moshe Mench, who owns stock in GM and is one of the employers of Mr. Smith, Mr. Smale, and Mr. Pearce ("GM: Why They Might Break Up America's Biggest Company," April 29). Moshe was very concerned to read that his employee Mr. Smith "looks tired" and that he had had a "brutal" four years.

In the last paragraph of your article, Mr. Smale says, "The obligation of management is to perpetuate the corporation, and that precedes their obligation to their shareholders." Now, earlier in the article Mr. Smith was planning to spin off Delphi and its UAW employees making $44 an hour (including fringe benefits, I think) to buy parts from non-union shops with cheaper labor (Moshe thinks this practice is called outsourcing).

My uncle Moshe is confused. GM's management feels it has some obligation that precedes taking care of either shareholders or employees. I suggested to my uncle Moshe that perhaps GM's management thinks the purpose of the company is to take care of GM's management. My uncle Moshe told me this could not be. These executives were probably just suffering from overwork due to their concern for the "corporation," which precedes their concern for the employees or shareholders.

Now my uncle Moshe's suggestion is that the board should outsource the management of GM. No, seriously. Earlier this year GM decided to outsource the work of other employees, so why not outsource senior management? Or at least see if better people could be hired for less. After all, what could be better for the corporation than to get the most talented people at the top? At what GM pays, it should have its pick of talent.

Honestly, what are Mr. Smith, Mr. Smale, and Mr. Pearce going to do if the board does decide to look outside the company to replace them? Not to be rude, but given that Mr. Smith is tired, etc., would anyone notice if he went on strike? STEVEN STRAUSS Greenwich, Connecticut