Saturday, February 27, 2010

Countdown: UFCW Just Hours Away From Striking New England Grocery Chain?

With an already expired contract, the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) is gearing up for a possible strike tomorrow against New England grocer Stop & Shop.

However, since losing the 2004-2005 grocery strike (and lockout) in Southern California, the UFCW has refrained from striking grocery chains over the last few years (including in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico earlier this year).

More here...

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.”
Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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As long as Obama does the SEIU's bidding, he is and always will be "anti-business"

President Obama has been bending over backwards lately trying to craft himself as "pro-business/pro-free-market." Almost invoking the spirit of Ayn Rand, Obama has even declared himself to be "an ardent believer in the free market" while making an effort to rebut claims that his policies are "socialist" (a never-before heard statement from a President of the United States, as far as we can tell).

In a recent BusinessWeek interview, Obama even went so far as to state that "We are fierce advocates for a thriving, dynamic free market," before stating (later in the interview) in a Joe-Wilson moment:
You would be hard-pressed to identify a piece of legislation that we have proposed out there that, net, is not good for businesses.

With all due respect, Mr. President:  You is not quite accurate.

Just today, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration, in a throwback to the Clinton administration's "blacklisting" program, is looking at using the awarding of government contracts as a way of paying back organized labor, which will affect one quarter of all working Americans.
By altering how it awards $500 billion in contracts each year, the government would disqualify more companies with labor, environmental or other violations and give an edge to companies that offer better levels of pay, health coverage, pensions and other benefits, the officials said.

Because nearly one in four workers is employed by companies that have contracts with the federal government, administration officials see the plan as a way to shape social policy and lift more families into the middle class. It would affect contracts like those awarded to make Army uniforms, clean federal buildings and mow lawns at military bases.


Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president for labor at the United States Chamber of Commerce, called the plan a “warmed-over version” of President Bill Clinton’s regulations that sought to bar federal agencies from awarding contracts to companies with a record of breaking labor, environmental or consumer laws. President George W. Bush vacated those regulations soon after taking office.

“We strongly opposed the Clinton blacklist regulations,” Mr. Johnson said, “and this appears worse than that.”

Then, of course, there's the so-called "cap and trade" which, according to the Wall Street Journal, results in the greatest inequities being imposed "on the parts of the U.S. that rely most on manufacturing or fossil fuels -- particularly coal, which generates most power in the Midwest, Southern and Plains states."

Next up is the mother-of-all bad ideas, the job-destroying Employee Free Choice Act (or EFCA).  EFCA, which consists of effectively eliminating workers' right to a secret-ballot during unionization campaigns and forcing government-imposed union contracts on businesses (large and small), has been estimated to add one percent of unemployment for every three percent of union membership gains.  

As the White House released its first "Annual Report of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class" earlier today, Labor Pains blogger J. Justin Wilson notes:
Among the pro-labor policies touted in the report on the “Middle Class,” starting on page 23 is a page plus on the importance of EFCA and the values it embodies. The report calling for EFCA does not mean it’s less dead, it’s just that the Administration has a responsibility to stay positive on the party line.

“Unions” or “unionization were mentioned 34 times, by my count. By contrast,”small business(es)” were mentioned just 8 times. The word “entrepreneur” is never even mentioned in the report. Heck, even the Great Depression got mentioned twice.

The House Republicans' Committee on Education and Labor had this to say on task force report:
Not surprisingly, union expansion is a major theme, with special attention paid to the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a noted job killer.

“Over the course of this year, the Task Force will continue to promote the benefits of union membership and to amplify the President’s message of the importance of EFCA as a way to guarantee workers who want to organize a fair chance to do so.”

Lastly, Mr. Obama's and his fellow Democrats' up-in-the-air-at-the-moment and ever-shifting attempt to nationalize the America's health care industry is being pushed with yet-unknown edicts on business, as well as an unknown price tag. However, one thing is sure, according to the Heritage Foundation, unions will be the beneficiary of "Obamacare."
The union movement will gain billions of dollars if Obamacare passes.

The most obvious payout is the taxpayer bailout for union health plans. Many union-negotiated retiree health plans cannot pay their scheduled benefits. Rather than reducing benefits, the bill passes those costs onto taxpayers to the tune of $10 billion. But that is small potatoes compared to what the bill will do for union membership.


If the government runs health care, then the SEIU's membership rolls will swell. If union rates among nurses in America rose to Canadian levels, then the SEIU would bring in over a billion dollars a year in new mandatory dues. Newly organized technicians and other medical support staff would add even more to that total. The Labor movement has a huge financial stake in the government dominating health care.

We have long commented on SEIU's Andy Stern and Anna Berger's influence on POTUS.  Prior to Andy becoming the most frequent visitor to the White house and before Obama ascendency to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, then-candidate Obama even pledged his allegiance to the SEIU.

So far, Obama's allegiance to the SEIU has resulted in the President's efforts to push initiatives that are beneficial to the SEIU (and other unions), as well as the elevation of key SEIU officials to influential positions: 
  • White House Director of Political Affairs, Patrick Gaspard was a high ranking SEIU boss in New York.
  • SEIU EVP Anna Burger was appointed to the aforementioned White House Task Force on the Middle Class last year
  • SEIU Associate General Counsel Craig Becker, before failing to get Senate confirmation, has been nominated and re-nominated by Obama. (It remains to be seen whether the President will seat Becker using a recess appointment later in the year.)
  • Lastly, the man behind the curtain, SEIU's president Andy Stern was appointed earlier today to sit on the so-called "deficit commission."
According to The Hill:
Business groups opposed to the card-check bill that has dominated fights between business and labor for more than a year railed against the decision to appoint Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

“Either the White House doesn’t read the newspaper or simply doesn’t care, but naming Andy Stern as a member of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility doesn’t pass the laugh test,” said Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute.

As the SEIU has spent millions upon millions of its members dues money on putting President Obama into the White House, one could expect the President to reward his backers.

However, for the President to try to claim that he is a proponent of the free market or try to downplay his anti-business creds is beyond laughable, it's preposterous. 


“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.”
 Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hard Sell? Detroit union members to lose Viagra benefits

With his city in tatters, its finances in ruins, Detroit's mayor, David Bing, doesn't mince words.
Mayor Dave Bing today criticized leaders of the city's largest union for foot-dragging on contract negotiations, saying it's costing the financially strapped city $500,000 a month and could result in more layoffs.

"Either they can't read, they can't add or they can't comprehend," Bing said at a press conference this morning in his office at City Hall. "It has to be one of the three."

"Everyone is running with a deficit in their budgets. It's leadership or a lack of leadership that has got us to where we are."

Bing said he's ready to impose a contract on the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25 but said the city must follow the law. Both parties are now in fact-finding, a process which could last until July.

More layoffs may be necessary in the meantime to help shore up the city's estimated $325 million deficit, although Bing didn't give any numbers.

Bing has been at odds for months with AFSCME leaders over calls for concessions, including 10 percent pay cuts through 26 furlough days and fringe benefit cuts. The union represents about 3,600 workers such as landscapers, street pavers and crossing guards.


Bing has ratified deals with 26 of the city's 49 unions, one union vote is pending, and he has imposed contract conditions on three others, staffers said.

He blamed union officials, who he said have repeatedly tried to delay negotiations in court unsuccessfully, including asking a judge at one point to jail Bing for contempt. Bing said he is sensitive to the rank-and-file city employees but said the city is in a "financial crisis".

"It's not the rank and file," Bing said. "The (union) leadership will still have their jobs."

The City Council recently approved fringe benefits reductions that Bing negotiated with about 25 unions representing nearly 1,400 staffers and another 1,300 non-union workers. They include:

  • Suspending tuition reimbursement until 2012 to save $520,000 a year.
  • Reducing vacation and sick days for new hires, including eliminating up to six bonus vacation days if they don't call in sick.
  • Dropping coverage for fertility and impotence drugs such as Viagra to save $1.6 million a year.
  • Stopping employees from being able to add adult dependents -- parents or adult children -- to their insurance as long as they pay the monthly premiums.
  • These are in addition to a 10 percent pay cut in the form of 26 furlough days.

In August, Bing vowed to lay off 1,000 workers if unions didn't agree to new contracts. He backed down, but noted the city's work force has fallen to 11,800 from 13,200 when he took office in May.  [Emphasis added.]

More here...

Suffice it to say that, if more politicians had the backbone that Bing has, many of America's states and cities might not be in the dire straits they are in today.


“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.”
Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Astro-turfing for Health Care: Obama campaign arm focuses on talk radio

As the fight over nationalizing America's health care goes into its final stages, Politico's Ben Smith is reporting that the DNC is plotting an astro-turf campaign aimed at talk-radio listeners.
The Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America has quietly launched an initiative aimed at making Obama supporters' voices heard on the largely conservative airwaves.

"The fate of health reform has been a focus of debate in living rooms and offices, on TV and online -- and on talk radio. And since millions of folks turn to talk radio as a trusted source of news and opinions, we need to make sure OFA supporters are calling in with a pro-reform message," says the introduction to the online tool.

The online tool presents users with a radio show discussing political topics, to which supporters can listen live, and the phone number for that station, for when health care comes up. It also offers tips for callers and talking points on the issue.

My quick sampling produced Christian radio, a local talk station in Buffalo, and the syndicated talk shows of Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Sean Hannity -- who will no doubt be thrilled with their new, liberal callers.

Supporters are then encouraged to report back on their encounters.

The only problem with this OFA strategy is the fact that, much like the control the government will have on Americans' lives under nationalized health care, the radio hosts also have a 'kill switch.'
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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While American Workers Suffer, Union Leaders (and their staffs) Enrich Themselves

As another 496,000 workers lost their jobs last week, Veronique de Rugy has a great post over at Big Government explaining how those that work in the "labor union industry" (i.e., union bosses and their staffs) are faring much better than both all private and financial-sector employees...and even union members themselves.
Based on this data , I am thinking that the good life starts the day one gets a job as an employee of your local Labor Union and in fact those overpaid financial sector people might want to change jobs!
This table, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows the changes in the wages in three sectors: the private sector, the Labor Union industry and the financial industry. According to the BLS, the Labor Union industry “comprises establishments primarily engaged in promoting the interests of organized labor and union employees.” That’s basically all the guys who work in a Union...


As one can see clearly here since the beginning of the recession, private sector employees have seen their wages grown by 3.3 percent (roughly the rate of inflation.) The financial sector employees have been slightly better off with wages growing at a 4.1 percent rate.
Meanwhile, wages in the labor unions have continued to increase. And not by 5 percent or 7 percent but by over 24.9 percent!!!
Read more here...
Given the amount of layoffs and concessions being negotiated by unions (on behalf of union members) all over the country, one would think that union bosses might show some restraint when rewarding themselves and their staffs...
...One would think.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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What Union Leaders Don't Want to Admit: Unions out of step with dynamic U.S. private sector

Following our posting of this a couple of days ago on LaborUnionReport's Linkedin group, two of our readers' comments prompted us to post this op-ed on the decline of unions.

As one of the readers stated: "Every Union officer/leader should read this article...and smell the coffee."

Since we know that some unionists dutifully visit LaborUnionReport, we hope their olfactory senses can pick up the scent of what has caused the unions' decline:
The story spun by labor leaders is that foreign competition has caused manufacturing and other, more unionized sectors of the economy to shrink, shifting the weight of our economy to less-unionized service sectors.

The reality is more sobering for the union movement. The decline in union density in the United States has not been driven by a shift of employment from unionized sectors to non-unionized sectors, but by a broad economy-wide decline of unionization across sectors and regions. Private-sector unionization rates have fallen in virtually every manufacturing sector and most service sectors in the past three decades and across all regions of the country.

The weight of evidence indicates that, for most firms in most sectors, unionization leaves companies less able to compete successfully. The core problem is that unions cause compensation to rise faster than productivity, eroding profits while at the same time reducing the ability of firms to remain price-competitive. The result over time is that unionized firms have tended to lose market share to nonunionized firms, in domestic as well as international markets.

After studying the effects of unions on company performance, Barry Hirsch of Georgia State University concluded that unions will typically raise labor costs to a firm by 15 percent to 20 percent, while delivering a negligible increase in productivity. As a result, "Unionization is associated with lower investment in physical and intangible capital and slower growth. The combination of a union tax and sluggish governance is proving debilitating in economic environments that are highly competitive and dynamic," Mr. Hirsch wrote in a 2008 study.

More here...

Labor leaders, can you smell the coffee yet?

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Photo credit: Noomrise

Ex-Tuxedo school librarian charged with embezzlement

Apparently this librarian was doing more than watching the books...
Town police said a former librarian in the Tuxedo School District embezzled more than $12,000 from the district’s teachers union while serving as its president and treasurer.

Police said Teresa E. Haslam, 45, of Chester, issued herself 20 checks and one electronic transfer from the union’s account between November 2008 and May 2009, when she left the district. According to the union, all but $645.98 has been repaid.

More here.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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The Fourth Rail

The American Spectator makes a great point with this statement:

"It's hard to imagine the founders of the AFL thinking that unions would devolve into organizations whose primary goal is to make it impossible to fire bad workers, to argue for an ever-increasing number of vacation days, and to eliminate secret ballots which are not just a staple of union election history but also a fundamental underpinning of liberty."

Too bad the point is lost on today's union leaders.


“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just When Union Bosses Thought Things Couldn't Get Any Worse: New poll finds unions losing Americans' support...

After a dismal 2009 and an even worse beginning to 2010, union bosses were dealt another blow today when a Pew poll was released showing that union favoribility ratings have plummeted since 2007.

Favorable views of labor unions have plummeted since 2007, amid growing public skepticism about unions’ purpose and power. Currently, 41% say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions while about as many (42%) express an unfavorable opinion. In January 2007, a clear majority (58%) had a favorable view of unions while just 31% had an unfavorable impression.


In recent years, positive attitudes about labor unions have declined significantly across most demographic groups. The largest change has come among those 65 and older. Currently 29% of this group says they have a favorable opinion of unions, down 31 points from 60% in 2007. Notably, those younger than 30 are the only age group in which a majority (53%) expresses a favorable view of unions; even so, far more young people (66%) expressed a positive opinion two years ago.

While this trend is consistent with last year's Gallup poll finding that a majority of Americans disapproved of unions, it also seems to be a continuation of more bad news for union bosses after a year of bad news.

Shortly after President Obama's inauguration, union bosses were confident that their agenda would be immediately enacted.  However, after 13 months, their number one legislative goal, the job-destroying and hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act, is all but dead; their number two issue, the nationalization of America's health care, has become a lightening rod; and, almost as bad, their own members, as well as the American public are turning on them. 

Despite all of this, with the 2010 mid-term elections looming right around the corner, the worst may yet be coming for union bosses.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Photo credit: Anomalous4

You're Fired! Taking on the Teachers' Union

See if you can pass this test:
  • If you took a test and got 52% of the questions right, would you expect to get a passing grade?
  • If you only got your job done half of the time. would you still have a job?
  • If your boss then called you into her office and said you either need to improve or find a new line of work, would you feel entitled to ask for a raise?
If you answered "NO" to each of the above questions, you are probably like most Americans who don't believe that failure should be perpetuated, let alone rewarded.

Unfortunately, in Rhode Island, the teachers and their union at Central Falls High School don't agree. As a result, they are being fired.

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has approved a school district's plan to fire all its teachers.

All 88 teachers at Central Falls High School are expected to receive their pink slips on Tuesday, reports CBS affiliate WPRI in Providence.

Central Falls, Rhode Island has long been among the state's most troubled school districts - 90 percent of the students live in poverty, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod. Many struggle with English in this immigrant community - and that's just for starters.

"We lose 52 percent of our students between 9th grade and the 12th grade," Gallo told Axelrod. "They don't graduate."

Central Falls Superintendent Fran Gallo has proposed laying off all teachers at the school as part of a "turnaround" model for the school. That high school and five other schools in Providence have been identified by the state as chronically low-performing and must make major changes to avoid being closed.

The turnaround model requires a new principal and governance structure and allows no more than half the teachers to be rehired.

The teachers' union says it wants more pay for the additional work, WPRI reports. Teachers, along with their supporters, held a rally on Tuesday to protest the decision.

UPDATE: U.S. Secretary of Education Applauds the Teacher Firings
The U.S. Secretary of Education is applauding the vote to fire all the teachers at the high school in Central Falls because it is one of the worst performing schools in the state.

"This is hard work and these are tough decisions, but students only have one chance for an education," Duncan said in Wednesday's edition of The Providence Journal, "and when schools continue to struggle we have a collective obligation to take action."

While there are probaby more factors than just bad teachers affecting the students' poor performance, for an uncooperative teachers' union to demand more pay with such an abysmal record is wholly unrealistic. The teachers and their union have failed.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Union's Use of 'Scab' Draws Attention to Iowa's Right-to-Work Fight

Iowa, the home of union-ally Sen. Tom Harkin (D) and the first state to have a crack at presidential contenders, has become a battleground of sorts over whether public unions will gain the right to require public workers throughout the state to pay union "representation fees."
All public employee unions could charge nonmembers fees for services under an amendment introduced Monday to broaden an already controversial labor bill.

The bill being debated by the House is now limited to employees in the executive branch of state government.

If the amendment is adopted, the bill would extend to employees of Iowa's cities, counties and public school districts.

Currently, Iowa is one of 22 Right-to-Work states, which means that unions cannot legally require employees to pay union dues; whereas in the 28 Non-Right-to-Work states, unions can require workers to pay union dues (or have them fired if they refuse).

If the measure passes, it is estimated that unions may reap up to $5.3 million in fees from workers who may suddenly be required to pay the unions. It is also reasonable for Iowans to be concerned that, if unions are successful in eliminating the right-to-work status of state workers, the next step will be an attempt foist forced dues from private-sector workers as well. In fact, this seems to be the 'camel's nose in the tent' for Iowa's unions to take that next step:
"You would not expect to get fire protection without paying taxes. ... Then why would you expect union representation in matters of collective bargaining, arbitration and grievances without people paying their fair share?" said Bill Gerhard, president of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council. "I don't think it's in Iowa's character to expect something for nothing."

While the debate in Iowa rages on, an e-mail from one union boss calling a state worker a 'scab' has fed fuel to the fire of right-to-work advocates.
State worker Joe Anderson said Monday that he thinks that even if nonunion workers are required by law to help pay their "fair share" for certain union services, they would still face discrimination from union officials.

Anderson, who joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees last fall after 13 years of saying no to membership invitations, e-mailed two AFSCME officials asking for their advice on a work issue.

Union leader Danny Homan responded: "A scab, take your time responding to him."

Homan intended that email for a union field representative, but he mistakenly copied it to Anderson.


Anderson, an agent for the Iowa Department of Transportation, said: "I know Homan wants to paint the picture that they're providing all these services for nonunion members and they're doing it for free. To me, it's a perfect illustration that they're not."

He also asked, "Does this sound like a man, and an organization, that can be trusted to give nonmembers their 'fair share' of union services? Does anyone truly believe that a 'fair share' fee will change the way Homan and the union treats nonmembers?"

House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said Homan's e-mail, which was meant for AFSCME field representative Adam Swihart, appears to be asking Swihart to treat Anderson differently from dues-paying members.

"That is illegal," Paulsen said. "Public-sector unions are compelled to represent everybody in the bargaining unit equally and without prejudice as to whether they're a dues-paying member."

Homan repeatedly apologized in his written statement. "I apologize to all AFSCME-covered employees, member and nonmember, and this was unbecoming of someone in my position. Our response to workers in need is not something that I take lightly," he wrote. [Emphasis added.]

In most cases, as the saying goes: “Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.”

However, in the case of this union boss, it appears that integrity is something that only comes about when an e-mail is sent to the wrong recipient.

[Image: 1-888-NO-UNION.COM]

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Monday, February 22, 2010

With Big Unions Bankrupting State, New Jersey Cracks Down

Following years of Democratic governors James McGreevey and Jon Corzine's financial mismanagement, and with little more than a month in office, New Jersey governor Chris Christie is getting down to business, prodding the NJ democrat-controlled state senate to pass measures to close its budget deficit.

New Jersey’s Senate passed a package of bills aimed at closing a $34.4 billion hole in the state pension by excluding part-time workers from the system, reducing benefits and forcing teachers to pay more for health care.

The three measures would shift future employees who work less than 35 hours a week into a defined contribution plan modeled after private retirement options rather than the existing system, which guarantees monthly benefits. The package heads to the Assembly. Both houses are controlled by Democrats.


“If this was a private business, we’d have already declared bankruptcy,” said Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono, a Democrat from Edison who sponsored the bill ending pensions for part-time workers. “We’ve got to do something.”

New Jersey’s pension gap nearly tripled since 2004 as previous governors skipped contributions while expanding benefits. The state’s retirement-funding gap is the second- biggest among U.S. states, with Illinois having the largest deficit at $55 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Nationwide, states face a $1 trillion pension shortfall, the Pew Center on the States said in a Feb. 18 report.

Christie’s administration would need to make a $2.65 billion payment in the fiscal year starting July 1 in order to fully fund the system. The state faces a budget deficit of more than $11 billion, the largest gap per taxpayer of any state in the country, according to Christie.

"Make no mistake about it, pensions and benefits are the major driver of our spending increases at all levels of government -- state, county, municipal and school board,” Christie said in a Feb. 11 speech to a joint session of the Legislature.

Former Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat defeated in November by Christie, refused in 2006 to support legislation from members of his party that would have limited pensions to full-time workers.

[Emphasis added.]

While it is too early to tell whether these measures will save the Garden State from financial disaster, at least it's a start.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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SEIU Boss Being Considered for Obama's Deficit Reduction Panel!

The lavender-lapeled boss of the Union of Purple People Eaters, otherwise known as the SEIU, is being considered a top contender for President Barack Obama's so-called deficit-reduction panel.

The White House is also considering appointing two Democrats: Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, and Alice M. Rivlin, a budget expert and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve who recently launched a separate, independent effort to draft a bipartisan plan to stabilize government borrowing.

Obama has given himself six appointees to the 18-member panel, which is tasked with producing a plan to balance the primary government budget -- outside interest on debt -- and deliver it to Congress by Dec. 1. Obama has already named former Clinton chief of staff Erskine B. Bowles and former Republican senator Alan K. Simpson to co-chair the panel. Cote, Stern and Rivlin could be appointed in the coming days, the official said, leaving one slot to be filled. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.


Stern and Rivlin are well-known in Washington. Stern is president of the 2.2 million-member SEIU and an ardent supporter of Obama's health initiative. Rivlin was founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and White House budget director under Bill Clinton. She has long called for a mix of new taxes and changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to bring budget deficits under control.

The three did not respond Saturday to requests for comment.

Given the SEIU's successful rape-the-rich campaign to increase taxes on Oregonians, as well as his union's penchant for plundering states like California, we can only assume his recipe for deficit reduction will be to drain the private sector with higher taxes.

h/t: Marathon Pundit
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Seeing Red: When a Union Beats Up Its Own Members

You may have seen them climbing in and out of sewers, or climbing a telephone pole.  They may have come into your house or you might have seen them astro-turfing at a town hall meeting last summer. 

Who are they? 

They're the Communications Workers of America and, the chances are, if you've ever had a telephone repairman into your home, he was a member of the CWA.

Their shirts are red, not purple.  However, they can sometimes be just as nasty as their purple-clad cousins over at the SEIU.

Two members of the Staten Island local of the Communications Workers of America say they were beaten and harassed - and one had a dead rat put in his locker - after they reported that union brothers were being paid for work they did not perform. The men say the union supported the retaliation: that a local vice president told members that "we have to deal with these spies on a personal level, like take them outside of the yard, off the company property and off company time and take care of them, because we can't be ratting each other out," according to the federal complaint.


According to the complaint in Brooklyn Federal Court, DiStefano was a member in good standing with the union when in the summer of 2007 a union manager overseeing worked for Verizon on Staten Island told his men that so long as they did three "fiber to premises" jobs each day, they could put in for a full day's pay no matter how many hours they actually worked.

DiStefano says he refused to participate in the scheme, and told other workers, supervisors and union management that the practice was illegal. When Taravella went to work at the Verizon garage, he says, he expressed the same reservations.

DiStefano and Taravella say revealed the scheme to Verizon's corporate security in May 2008. From then on, they say, they were subjected to increasing abuse from union brothers, shop stewards and union chiefs.

They claim that Richard Meltz, a union chief, told angry union members to "do whatever you want with those two guys."

Immediately afterward, the two men say they were brought up on false charges that they had made "discriminatory" gestures" to their co-workers. The case was supported by affidavits signed by many of their union brothers.

As a result, DiStefano and Taravella say, they were "terminated" from the Staten Island garage, relocated, demoted, and placed on bogus "final warnings" due to the false charges of "discrimination" and "harassment" and "making gestures" to their union brothers.

When they complained to superiors, they were told, "You guys did it to yourself," according to the complaint.

Soon after that, Taravella says he discovered that somebody - allegedly shop steward Manny Rincon - had put a dead rat in his locker.

A month later, a union member called DiStefano a "rat" while hitting him about the face and head, an attack that left him with two herniated discs, he says.

In neither case did the union take action against the alleged perpetrator. Instead, in DiStefano's case, he says the incident led to his termination for allegedly starting the fight.

The plaintiffs say the union encouragement the violence against them. They say that at an August 2009 meeting, Joe Macaleer and Mike Luzzi, two vice presidents of the Local, told members that the company was "having a lot of problems right now 'due to a couple of troublemakers,'" and that "We have to learn that we can't call corporate security because we don't want those people getting involved in our business."

The complaint claims that Macaleer said, "I don't want nobody in this room to call corporate security any more." [And] "I don't care if somebody comes to work with a gun saying they're going to shoot people, you don't say anything ... we have a lot of problems here due to the fact there are 'spies 'in the room." [Ellipsis in complaint.]

Macaleer added, "You know who you are," while looking directly at the plaintiffs, according to the complaint.

DiStefano and Taravella sued the CWA Local 1101, seeking damages for reckless indifference, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. [Emphasis added.]

This isn't the first time the CWA local's heavy-handedness has...well...gotten out of hand.

Following the Verizon strike of 2000, then-CWA boss Jim Trainor sent a letter to his members bragging about charges the union had filed against 'scabs' (people who had crossed the union's picket line to work).

Imagine, paying a union that (allegedly) turns a blind eye to fraud, then beats the person who turns them in. 

And union bosses wonder why they keep losing members! [Ha!]
Photo credit: Molly Theobald
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Unions Have Become Democrats' ATM Machine

Ken Sagar, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor has a bone to pick with Democrats.
I understand that a party that alleges to support workers and advance the middle class, uses the labor movement as an ATM, as a source of free campaign workers, as a strong back to carry them to victory, and a perceived weak mind that would not notice the huge disparity between promises and deliveries. Suffice to say, we have noticed.

Sagar's not alone. Union bosses and other Lefties all over the country have been grousing over the Democrats' inability to pass the job-destroying and hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act and, more recently, failing to seat hand-picked SEIU attorney Craig Becker onto the National Labor Relations Board.

Connie Leyva, president of Local 1428 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents grocery workers in western San Bernardino County, said she was "infuriated" by that [Becker] vote....

"The hard part for us is getting our Democratic elected officials to commit to doing what they're supposed to do," she said. "They're wavering and they need to act."

We've been saying for quite some time that the Democratic Party has become the de facto Labor Party in the United States.  However, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars to secure the obedience of the Democratic majorites in Congress (and the White House), apparently union bosses are beginning to feel they've been scammed.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

AFL-CIO Boss Trumka's Striking Hypocrisy

For more than two and one half years, miners employed by Grupo Mexico have been on strike, shutting down Grupo Mexico's Cananea copper mine in the northwestern state of Sonora.

Last Thursday (Feb. 11th), a Mexican appeals court ruled that Grupo Mexico can lay off the strikers.
The court rejected a request for an injunction sought by the National Mining and Metal Workers Union against a 2009 federal labor arbitration board ruling allowing the company to end the collective contract of an estimated 1,200 unionized workers at Cananea, Mexico's largest copper mine.

Grupo Mexico last year sought to end the contract, claiming force majeure after the mine had been shut for nearly two years by strikers.

On Friday, the AFL-CIO's president, Richard Trumka issued a statement condemning the Mexican court's ruling, stating that "the court effectively eliminated the right to strike in Mexico."

While the right to strike has long been a fundamental right that labor unions (inlcuding the AFL-CIO) have long cherished, union bosses in the U.S. have been pushing to take that right away from workers through the hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

While much of the media's attention surrounding EFCA has been focused on the bill's effective elimination of workers' right to a secret-ballot vote on whether or not to unionize, a lesser-but-equally important provision of EFCA called binding arbitration.

As written, once a company is unionized, EFCA gives the federal government the power to have a government-appointed arbitrator impose a contract on a union, the employer and, just as importantly, employees.   The government-imposed contract is binding on all three parties for a period of not less than two years.

As we've written before:

Under the oxymoronically-named Employee Free Choice Act, once binding arbitration kicks in, if employees had been tricked into unionization (under EFCA's no-vote unionization provision) and the government imposes its contract on the employer and employees, employees..:

1) CANNOT vote to ratify or reject the government contract

2) CANNOT modify the government contract

3) CANNOT kick the union out (for two years)

4) and, perhaps most importantly, CANNOT strike in protest.

Note: A strike is the collective withholding of labor and, if workers cannot withhold their labor, then they effectively become economic serfs.

Employees will be voiceless, powerless and left with two options: Either keep their mouths shut and accept it, or quit as individuals.

It is hypocritical for AFL-CIO boss Trumka to decry the Mexican court's ruling, claiming that the court effectively eliminated the right to strike while he and his fellow union cohorts are attempting to do the same thing to workers in the U.S.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Teamster Boss Defends Obama Agenda, Targets 'Tea Baggers'

Fred Zuckerman, is the Director of the Teamsters' Carhaul Division and was interviewed on 'where things stand' for the labor movement.  After discussing the loss of 7,000 members in Teamsters carhaul division, he is asked (at 3:30 in the clip) about the Tea Party Movement's influence in stymieing the union agenda.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Breaking: No Recess Appointment for Craig Becker

According to the Huffington Post, President Obama will NOT be using a recess appointment to place SEIU's Craig Becker onto the National Labor Relations Board.

One of the more remarkable aspects of President Obama's decision to not make immediate recess appointments as a concession for Senate Republicans confirming 27 nominees is the muted reaction from the labor community.

Among those on the losing end of the deal struck between Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are labor unions. Craig Becker, the president's nominee for the National Labor Relations Board who was filibustered by the Senate this past week, will not get the recess appointment next week that union officials were hoping. Instead, his nomination is either dead or put on hold until the next Senate recess at the end of March.

Read HuffPo's whole piece here.

How are union bosses reacting to the President's poke in their eye?  Well, as any union would, the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka is blaming the GOP.

Senate Republican obstructionists are working overtime to block the interests of working people. Today we hear the White House and Senate have cut a deal with Republicans that will keep President Obama's nominees off the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for even longer.


Yesterday, in a deal with the Republican minority, the Senate confirmed 27 non-controversial Obama appointees. The White House apparently has agreed not to make Presidents Day recess appointments -- a process that allows the president to temporarily appoint his own nominee while Congress is out of session. That means NLRB nominees -- and working people -- are out in the cold.

It's surprising that a union negotiator like Mr. Trumka has forgotten that it usually takes two for a "deal" to become a "deal."


“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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With Friends Like These: Colorado Dem gets dissed by Big Labor

Not even a week has passed since Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) dutifully voted for Big Labor's nominee for the National Labor Relations Board and his supposed union friends have already thrown him under the bus by endorsing his rival.

Ex-CO House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) received 2 key labor union endorsements this week, less than a day after his primary rival, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), made a play to rally them to his side.

The CO Teamsters and UFCW announced that they are throwing their weight behind Romanoff in the Dem primary, citing their "long-standing relationship" with him. The 2 are among the largest unions in the state.

"Andrew Romanoff was always straight with us," CO Teamsters pres. Steve Vairma said in a statement, taking a veiled jab at Bennet over his less-than-clear stand on card check. "We didn't see eye to eye on every issue, but his door was always open, and we could trust him to tell us the truth."

How does it feel to viewed as a liar by your friends, Senator?

You know, as the saying goes: With friends like these, who needs enemies?
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Despite their efforts, Teamsters get a C- in their attempt to imitate ACORN

They say that 'imitation is the best form of flattery.'  However, what happens when the imitators do a lousy job at imitating?

The Teamsters are known for a lot of things, not the least of which are violence, corruption, underfunded pension plans and closed companies.  However, one of the things the Teamsters are not generally known for is being overly creative when trying to draw attention to a cause.  At least that was the case until recently when they tried to pull off their best ACORN imitation at an auto show in Washington, DC.

Here is what it looked like:

[Note the almost-embarrassed looks on the dancers' faces, the out-of-step timing, as well as the lack of color-coordinated attire.]

Now here is what "real" creative demonstration looks like (a la ACORN):

[Note the color coordinated shirts, the on-time chants, as well as the look of almost-enthusiasm on the marchers' faces.]

While we give the Teamsters high marks for their efforts, their delivery and costumes were lacking.  Therefore, we've got to give them a C- overall.

Perhaps next time, the Teamsters can hire ACORN.  We hear those nuts are always looking for more parties to crash.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A PSA from LUR: Buy an Ice Cream Cone & Make a Union Boss Mad

This is a long post for no other reason than to give you a flavor (so to speak) of the nature of today's unions.

Normally, public service announcements aren't something we do, but we couldn't pass on this one:

If you happen to be passing through Arroyo Grande, California, Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab is an old fashioned ice cream parlor owned by 46-year old Navy vet Greg Steinberger that, according to the LA Times, also happens to be the target of union "bannering"...Not for something Mr. Steinberger has done directly mind you, but because he is opening a store in a mall that has used a non-union drywall company.
For years, the owner of Arroyo Grande's old-fashioned ice cream parlor has likened the Central Coast community to Bedford Falls, the friendly little burg in the Jimmy Stewart film "It's a Wonderful Life."

So he bristled when an out-of-town labor union unfurled a 15-foot-wide banner -- "Shame on Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab" -- across from his business on cafe-lined West Branch Street.

Even more upsetting to Greg Steinberger was the flier showing a rat gnawing on a tattered American flag: It charged him with "desecration of the American way of life."

And most galling to the 46-year-old Navy veteran was that the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America had targeted him over the allegedly low wages of a company he says he had never even heard of.

"I don't know what it'll take to get them to go away," said Steinberger, who, in labor jargon, has been "bannered" since Oct. 30. "I've got customers coming in here asking, 'Are you in trouble? Aren't you paying minimum wage?' "


In Arroyo Grande, paid sign-minders* stand beside the banner across the street from Doc Burnstein's four days a week, sometimes shielded from the sun by blue-and-white umbrellas.

According to the fliers, the carpenters are bannering Doc Burnstein's because Steinberger plans to open an outlet in a renovated Santa Maria mall where a nonunion drywall company "does not meet area labor standards . . . including fully paying for family health benefits and pensions." A gymnastics studio in Santa Maria is getting the same treatment.


Representatives of Camarillo-based Carpenters Local 150, which is bannering Doc Burnstein's, did not return phone calls. But the ice cream parlor's fans have been vocal about wishing the carpenters a rocky road.

"I told one of them, 'If you're not going to hell, I don't know who is,' " Lynette Navarro said. "Imagine hurting an ice cream guy whose crime is daring to sign a lease at the mall!"


After the bannering began, irate customers wanted to mount a counter-protest. Steinberger said he consented only because the union action continued through one of his bimonthly blood drives.

"That just really ticked me off," said Steinberger, who offers a pint of ice cream to every blood donor.

Some two dozen sign-wielding Doc Burnstein's supporters showed up. Navarro, owner of a Grover Beach awning company, donated a banner as big as the union's: "We [heart] Doc Burnstein's! No Labor Dispute!" A union representative came to heckle, according to Steinberger, and to videotape the protesters' reactions.

It's hard to tell, Steinberger said, whether the bannering has slowed his business. But Gabe Segura, owner of the action's primary target -- United Drywall Systems -- said it's hurting his 10-employee company.

"They've threatened, they manipulated, they've gone to my employees' house at night, asking for copies of check stubs," Segura said. "They want to deter people from using us, and there's definitely certain jobs that don't want the publicity." [Emphasis added.]

So, if you ever happen to be passing through Arroyo Grande, CA and get the hankering for an ice cream cone, Doc Burnstein's is dishing it out at 114 W. Branch Street, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420.

[* Note: Rather than doing its own picketing or 'sign minding,' it appears that the Carpenters' union has hired picketers (or "sign minders"), which seems to be its modus operandi.]

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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Unions Threaten to Boycott Mid-Term Elections

Union bosses are really, really steamed.  In fact, they are throw-the-toys-across-the-room boiling mad.

What's the cause of their tantrum? 

Apparently, the Democrats they spent hundreds of millions of their members' dues dollars getting elected have let them down...again.

Now, the unions are threatening to take their ball and go home. 

According to Politico, union bosses are threatening to sit out (or boycott) the 2010 mid-term elections
Labor groups are furious with the Democrats they helped put in office — and are threatening to stay home this fall when Democratic incumbents will need their help fending off Republican challengers.

The Senate’s failure to confirm labor lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board was just the latest blow, but the frustrations have been building for months.

"Here's labor getting thrown under the bus again," said John Gage, the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 600,000 workers. "It's really frustrating for labor, and a lot of union people are thinking: We put out big time in money and volunteers and support. And it seems like the little things that could have been aren't being done."

The 52-33 vote on Becker — who needed 60 to be confirmed — really set labor unions on edge, but the list of setbacks is growing.

The so-called “card check” bill that would make it easier to unionize employees has gone nowhere. A pro-union Transportation Security Administration nominee quit before he even got a confirmation vote. And even though unions got a sweetheart deal to keep their health plans tax-free under the Senate health care bill, that bill has collapsed, leaving unions exposed again.

Union leaders warn that the Democrats' lackluster performance in power is sapping the morale of activists going into the midterm elections.

"Right now if we don’t get positive changes to the agenda, we’re going to have a hard time getting members out to work," said United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard, in an interview.

If, by boycotting the mid-term elections, their members' money won't be frivolously spent on politicians who care less for the American people than their big labor handlers, we say, go ahead!...

Take your ball and go home.


"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Smoking Gun? Is the SEIU in Control of Senate Democrats' Agenda?

As the smoke clears on the bi-partisan blockage of SEIU-radical attorney Craig Becker to a seat on the "independent" National Labor Relations Board, an e-mail sent from a SEIU staffer to Senators on February 3rd is worthy of closer examination as it reveals just how much control the purple behemoth of a union has over the Democrats in Washington.

Last week's e-mail was sent from an SEIU "legislative consultant," Alison Reardon who, according to the SEIU's financial reports, spends 100% of her time on "political activities and lobbying." 

In other words, Ms. Reardon is a lobbyist representing a powerful special interest--the SEIU--in trying to get one of her colleagues confirmed on a federal agency that has jurisdiction over nearly every private-sector workplace in America.

What is surprising about the e-mail is the controlling tone she takes with the senators, as well as the information she divulges.  Or, rather, the source of her information, the Senate Majority Leader himself, Harry Reid.

From: Alison Reardon []
Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2010 4:29 PM

Subject: HELP Ex Session 10:00 am 2/4


Your attendance is crucial to appointing Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board(NLRB) Please attend Thursday's HELP Ex Session to report out President Obama's nomination of Craig Becker for Senate confirmation. This is the highest prionty for organized labor, and Majority Leader Reid will file Cloture on Friday 2/5, and has assured us that Senate will vote to end debate at 5 p m Monday 2/8.

Please contact me if you have any questions, and to confirm Senator's attendance on Thursday, at 10 00 a.m  [Emphasis added.]

Alison Reardon
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Legislative Consultant

202.330.1020 (c)

Again, this is a lobbyist who is lobbying to get a colleague seated as one of five members of a federal agency that has jurisdiction over nearly every private-sector workplace in America.

Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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Monday, February 8, 2010

AFSCME Union Bosses Still Want 86-Year Old Volunteer Crossing Guard Fired

A couple of weeks ago, we posted on the issue of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees wanting an 86-year old school crossing guard fired from his job volunteering as a school crossing guard in Wassau, Wisconsin.

In short, AFSCME wants the 86-year old volunteer fired because they believe the work is "union work" even though there is no crossing guard in the school's budget.

The Wassau Daily Herald has weighed in on AFSCME's attempt to stop the 86-year old Warren Eschenbach from volunteering his time:
AFSCME's position is crazy, and it needs to immediately drop its grievance, which has already been denied by the city. The choice here isn't between a union crossing guard and a volunteer one -- it's between a volunteer guard and none at all.

Riverview has never had a paid crossing guard. And in response to the union grievance, the Wausau Police Department said that even if Eschenbach were forced to stop volunteering, the city wouldn't hire someone else take the job.

Now AFSCME has the opportunity to take its grievance to arbitration. If it wins, Riverview Elementary School will lose its crossing guard. Is that really the outcome the union wants? That Riverview parents want?

Eschenbach, a retired Wausau Water Works employee, worked as a crossing guard for five years at a different school previously. He is trusted by Riverview Principal Steve Miller, and by all indications he's popular with the students. Kicking him off the job would have no benefits whatsoever, and it would do harm by removing adult supervision from the school intersection.

There's a larger point here. The volunteer work Eschenbach does is valuable and important. We need to have a system that allows for citizen volunteers. For the union to attempt to get in the way of that is obstructive, it's unnecessarily territorial, and it's wrong.

We agree with the editors of the Wassau Daily Herald: 'AFSCME's position is crazy....and it's wrong.'
Photo credit (used with permission): Rosa Aralani

"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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How Much Do You Know About the Employee (Not So) Free Choice Act?

If you are seeking information about the Employee Free Choice Act, go here.

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If you would like to receive regular updates on the status of the Employee Free Choice Act, as well as news and views about today's unions go here.

More on the Hallucinogenically-Named Employee Free Choice Act

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