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Thu Aug 30, 2012, 10:06 PM

 

Why Everyone Should Be in a Union

Last edited Sun Sep 2, 2012, 06:54 PM - Edit history (1)

I represent IBEW workers at a racetrack in Boston. We needed legislation to expand gambling in Massachusetts in order to survive. The company and the union joined forces in this effort to secure legislation. It took nearly 10 years to accomplish. It was in both parties best interest. The legislation passed last year in a Democratic controlled legislature and was signed into law by a Democratic Governor and one of President Obama's strongest supporters, Deval Patrick. On Labor Day, the best contract we ever bargained goes into affect. Pay raises, over 3 years, (2012 is retroactive) that range from 10% to 22%. Increases in employer contribution to health and dental care, extra vacation and sick days and time and half on holidays for not only full-time workers, but also for part-time workers. There's much more, but you get the point. I have been asked to speak about this success at a union forum in Vermont at the end of the month. Here's what I intend to say:

When people watch Sean Hannity on TV, listen to Rush limbaugh on the radio, or read Howie Carr in the newspaper, here's what you have to keep in mind. Not one of them would work a single day without a contract. A contract that spells out their responsibilities and their wages. Their benefits, their working conditions. Not one of them, or people like them, would work a single day without that written agreement. Yet each of them will rail against labor unions. I represent Mutuel Clerks, Bartenders, Waitresses and Waiters. Dishwashers and cooks, laborers and racing personnel. If one of us walked into a place to get a job in our professions and asked for a contract, on our own, we would be laughed at and shown the door. The only way we can negotiate a contract is collectively. By pooling our limited resources and banding together, we can accomplish what we would be unable to accomplish separately. None of us, individually, can provide a service, or withhold it, with any leverage. After all, we are just average workers. But united, we can accomplish a great deal, both for ourselves and for the company we work for. I, and the people I represent, have no particular special talent. We are just your everyday service employees. We are not great celebrities or exceptional athletes. We are not well known public figures. We are just workers. We, and all those like us, are the backbone of America and we deserve the same rights as all those I have mentioned. We need to bargain collectively in order to accomplish the receiving of a living wage and to provide health care to our families.

I personally take being called a "union boss" as an insult when those that I have mentioned use that phrase so readily and with such disdain. Each one of them has an agent, who finds them work, represents them in negotiations, works with a lawyer to finalize a contract and advocates for them as a client. I do the same thing. I am not a "boss" but a business agent, representing the workers who chose me by free and fair election, to speak in their behalf. So when we hear these windbags denigrate our institution that provides a voice for workers in the workplace, the same voice that they themselves demand for themselves, they should be called out for exactly what they are, self-serving hypocrites with no interest in the hard working members of the middle-class.

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Arrow 40 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Everyone Should Be in a Union (Original post)
louis c Aug 2012 OP
louis c Aug 2012 #1
louis c Aug 2012 #2
reformist2 Sep 2012 #37
Starry Messenger Aug 2012 #3
louis c Aug 2012 #4
Starry Messenger Aug 2012 #6
louis c Aug 2012 #5
reformist2 Aug 2012 #7
Starry Messenger Aug 2012 #8
reformist2 Aug 2012 #13
Starry Messenger Aug 2012 #16
Major Nikon Aug 2012 #9
Lucy Goosey Aug 2012 #10
Major Nikon Aug 2012 #12
Lucy Goosey Aug 2012 #17
Sherman A1 Aug 2012 #20
louis c Aug 2012 #29
Major Nikon Aug 2012 #33
B Calm Aug 2012 #11
Major Nikon Aug 2012 #14
Jack Sprat Aug 2012 #15
byeya Aug 2012 #18
slackmaster Aug 2012 #19
bemildred Aug 2012 #21
Cleita Aug 2012 #22
former9thward Aug 2012 #23
louis c Aug 2012 #25
former9thward Aug 2012 #26
louis c Aug 2012 #27
former9thward Aug 2012 #30
louis c Aug 2012 #31
former9thward Aug 2012 #34
louis c Sep 2012 #35
Teamster Jeff Aug 2012 #24
Pat Riot Aug 2012 #28
GoneOffShore Aug 2012 #32
Omaha Steve Sep 2012 #36
Mc Mike Sep 2012 #38
pintobean Sep 2012 #39
louis c Sep 2012 #40

Response to louis c (Original post)

Thu Aug 30, 2012, 10:14 PM

1. Kicked in order to to stay relevant during RNC

 

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Response to louis c (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 30, 2012, 11:00 PM

2. Again

 

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Response to louis c (Reply #2)

Sat Sep 1, 2012, 11:01 PM

37. What about white-collar professional unions: Accountants, Lawyers, Computer Programmers?


It might be harder to pull off, but I think you'd find people in those professions more receptive to the idea than you might think...

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Thu Aug 30, 2012, 11:05 PM

3. k&r

AFT and on the executive council for my local.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 30, 2012, 11:08 PM

4. I know AFT stands for.................

 

American Federation of Teachers.

thanks for your work and your service.

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Response to louis c (Reply #4)

Thu Aug 30, 2012, 11:33 PM

6. Thank you for yours.

That is a great speech and I know you'll bring the house down. I just shared your post on twitter too.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Thu Aug 30, 2012, 11:31 PM

5. Trying to stay here with all the RNC talk

 

Probably was a bad time to post this. I should have chosen a slower thread day.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Thu Aug 30, 2012, 11:34 PM

7. Why is it so hard to unionize the Big Box stores?

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #8)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 12:28 AM

13. WOW - I had never seen any of those. Real eye-openers.

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Response to reformist2 (Reply #13)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 09:13 AM

16. Thank you for reading. nt.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Thu Aug 30, 2012, 11:57 PM

9. CEOs and most high level executives don't work without a contract either

I'm no longer a union member since I went into management (although I still retain an associate membership). It just astounds me how people can actually vote against their own unionization. You are basically telling your employer they can do whatever they want to you and you're perfectly willing to lie down and take it. Ours is not a closed shop, meaning the union represents everyone, but paying dues are optional (which is a union busting trick). I've spoken to even the most hard core anti-union people at work that you can imagine, but not one of them was willing to say they would prefer NOT to have a contract. We call them parasites because they derive the benefit that the union provides for them, but they refuse to pay for it. I've also seen hard core anti-union people flip overnight once they are afraid of losing their job and everything for which they've worked their entire life.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Thu Aug 30, 2012, 11:59 PM

10. I actually just signed up for steward training with my local

Solidarity!

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Response to Lucy Goosey (Reply #10)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 12:26 AM

12. It's a very interesting job

You get it from both ends. The employees complain incessantly about how you do your union steward job, but few of them will ever support you if you ask for it. You also get it from management who often try to either drive a wedge between you and your employees or they will try to use you to do their job for them. As a representative of the union, you get extra protection under the law for retaliation from management. So the most difficult and most vital thing you have to learn is how to stand up to management and talk to them as an equal rather than your normal employee to employer relationship. I had a manager try to fire me once because I told him to go fuck himself when we were negotiating work schedules. The company lawyers axed it because they knew it was a sure loser if they tried it. The manager was also told to accept the schedule I gave him.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #12)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 10:00 AM

17. I hope I'm up to it

I'm a fairly quiet, reserved person, but I hate to see people being treated unjustly, and that gives me plenty of stand up and be heard. I recently had to ask for some minor accommodations for a disability, and the union employee I consulted was impressed with how I researched and presented my case - she was the one who suggested I look into the steward training. My father, who is reserved like me, was a steward, so that's another motivator for me.

I hope I don't get it too badly from the employees, though. There isn't a culture of open management-vs-employees hostility at my workplace, but maybe I'll see that differently as a steward. For what it's worth, we're a white collar group - I'm a business analyst, and other members are librarians, economists, auditors, computer programmers, etc.

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Response to Lucy Goosey (Reply #17)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 02:05 PM

20. Did my time as a shop steward

and 99% of it is simply answering questions on the contract. Usually by those too lazy to read the thing or who dream up their own versions of it. The advice I would offer would be to read your contract, memorize your contract, understand your contract and don't be bullied by either the employees who think you should fix every one of their (often self inflicted) problems or by management (who I found usually can be a bit creative, but don't stray just too far).

Good Luck

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #12)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 09:26 PM

29. I've got a hundred stories like that

 

I'm the Business Manager of my union, but I have to work on the line every day. The rule you quote is the "equality rule". We stand as equals and the give and take must be as equals.

I love my job. I have bargained additional rights into a contract for union reps. They have to provide us an office in the facility, I get union breaks whenever they are necessary, they now pay for stewards. It's been 10 years in the making, but my little union could never be stronger. The members see what we can do as we stand together. I couldn't be more pleased.

I know that this success could be fleeting, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

I received the IBEW Business Manager of the Year award last year (Second District).

Here's an old picture at a previous awards dinner in Boston;
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/specials/bill_brett/nov08seen2?pg=27

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Response to louis c (Reply #29)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 10:37 PM

33. I have a lifetime of stories

My dad was a union steward for IBEW for decades and I have another lifetime of stories from him. Congrats on the award. I know IBEW is a huge union so I'm sure that was a big deal and a nice honor. It's great to feel appreciated for union work because it generally doesn't happen very often. I learned very quickly to get your satisfaction from within.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 12:02 AM

11. Wages and benefits go up when labor sticks together!

 

That's why republicans hate unions and working people!

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Response to B Calm (Reply #11)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 12:33 AM

14. Not only that, everyone benefits

When a union negotiates higher pay and benefits, even other employers without unions are forced to do the same once they start competing for employees.

The GOP's dipshit supply side argument about when the rich get richer it's a rising tide that lifts all boats is pure unadulterated bullshit, however when it happens the other way around it's not. Higher wages means consumers have more money to purchase more goods and services. This creates demand which creates jobs and even the rich get richer. That's why you have smart rich people like Buffett who are Democrats and idiots like Trump who are Republicans.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 01:05 AM

15. All so true. nt

 

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 10:04 AM

18. IBEW on my paternal side and Longshoremen on my maternal side.

 

I, along with others, worked to have a union in our work catagory and won and was elected president.
A sad story from there and we never got a negotiated contract but the solidarity we achieved was lasting
and a positive thing.
Union forever!

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 10:06 AM

19. A CEO's union would certainly be a force to be reckoned with

 

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 02:43 PM

21. I still have my IWA card, and I have a small pension because of it.

There is no substitute for collective action, and big business needs big, effective opposition to do the right thing.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 02:46 PM

22. Yes. Too bad there isn't a law requiring all workers who are not

bosses to belong to unions.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 02:59 PM

23. You used a union to enact legislation which creates poverty for other workers.

But YOU benefit so its ok. Expanded gambling enriches the state at the expense of those who can least afford it. Congratulations.

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Response to former9thward (Reply #23)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 06:27 PM

25. Which Major City in the US has the highest Union Density?

 

Last edited Sun Sep 2, 2012, 06:54 PM - Edit history (1)

The answer.

Las Vegas, Nevada.

Casino workers are union workers and union workers are Democrats.

Your opinion is valid, but it is consistent with Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush and the Christian Coalition.

Sometimes you're judged by the company you keep.

I'll take Deval Patrick, Barney Frank, and Ed Randell as my company, and I'm proud to stand with them. You know, choice. Adult Americans making Adult decisions. Kinda like, well, treating adults like adults.

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Response to louis c (Reply #25)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 07:42 PM

26. I'll stand with President Obama.

From 2010: Obama warned families against gambling away college tuition: "You don't blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you're trying to save for college." Now we know what company you keep.

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Response to former9thward (Reply #26)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 09:03 PM

27. That was an analogy, Obama is really in favor of expanding gambling even further (see link)

 

That's not his position on gambling unless he doesn't want to carry Nevada. His political strength in Nevada is with the SEIU workers in the Las Vegas casinos.

That's why I agree with Harry Reid and you agree with Ralph Reed.

I'm pro-choice. On reproductive rights, on gay rights, and how an adult wants to spend his or her money on entertainment.

FDR repealed prohibition because, he too, as a progressive Democrat, knew that the government can't legislate morality. Come on, you're a criminal defense attorney, you should know that even better than I do.

38 states have legalized gambling. It's a choice adults make. Once we have socially accepted adult behavior, it's counterproductive to make that behavior illegal. Prohibition proved that.

Gambling is legal in almost every modern Democratic Society (England, Canada, France, Germany and on and on). It's illegal in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Get the picture. Join the 21st century. Adults make Adult decisions.

By the way, the Obama thing was a nice try, Counselor.

However, here's the President's real position on loosening the federal rules on Indian Casinos, and expanding Gambling in the United States even further. As you know, facts are a stubborn thing.

Link to Obama stand on Gambling;
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120722/opinion/120729924

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Response to louis c (Reply #27)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 09:31 PM

30. You can try and explain away the quote all you want.

You keep on throwing around names without any links to what they believe. In an earlier post you mention the Bush brothers. Both supported state lotteries while governor and both increased other forms of gambling while governor. So I will stand with Obama while you stand with the Bush's. See how that works?

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Response to former9thward (Reply #30)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 09:33 PM

31. Jeb fought expanded gambling in 2004 in Florida

 

It passed by 1% with the Teachers' Unions support.

Here's your link;
http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2005-12-01/news/0511301238_1_slot-machines-repeal-plan-special-session

The rest of the stuff, you have to fact check on your own.

But you can rest assured that Harry Reid, who represents Nevada, is pro-gambling. Ed Randell ushered in casino gambling in Pennsylvania in 2006. Barney Frank is the leading proponent of legalizing internet gambling in America. He sponsored the bill in the US House. I personally worked with legislative staffs on crafting the gambling bill in Massachusetts. Rest assured, Counselor, I know what I'm talking about on this issue. I'll give my opinions and you can research them to prove me wrong, but be assured, you will not be successful in that endeavor, not on this issue.

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Response to louis c (Reply #31)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 10:39 PM

34. Jeb was against gambling until he was for it.

But during his two-term tenure as governor he permitted the Florida Lotto, one of the state's lottery games, to increase from one drawing a week to two.

He also allowed a Fantasy 5 lottery game drawing every night, added two weekly Megaball drawings and allowed nightly Play 4 and Cash 3 lottery games.

As for the Florida Lottery's instant scratch-off tickets, the number of different kinds available zoomed to 61 under Bush's watch, including some costing as much as $20 apiece.


In 2002, the state legislature passed a bill increasing the limits and extending the hours at state poker rooms.

Bush vetoed the bill, saying he didn't oppose the limit increases but did have a problem with expanding the hours of operation.

In 2003 the state legislature approved an updated version of the bill which increased the limits but not the hours and Bush allowed it to become law.

The law eliminated a $10-per-game pot limit at racetrack poker rooms, replacing it with a $2 bet limit and a maximum of three raises per round, with unlimited rounds.


In 2006, Bush signed legislation allowing four state racetracks to install slot machines.

On one hand, Bush loudly and often declared his opposition to expanding gambling in the state.

But on the other (greasier) hand, during his tenure as governor he allowed expansion of plenty of gambling in the state, including poker, slot machines and state lottery games.


http://www.gambling911.com/politics/another-president-bush-jeb-hates-gambling-sometimes-101811.html

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Response to former9thward (Reply #34)

Sat Sep 1, 2012, 07:31 AM

35. We can continue this if you wish

 

but I have too much to do.

The bottom line is that if you favor labor unions, that means all of them. We have IBEW members in Nuclear Power plants, We have them at Raytheon, which makes Weapons of War (like the Patriot Missile), we have them in energy alternative companies, like Cape Wind. I, personally, represent people in the gaming industry, which includes bar-tenders who serve alcohol. I, myself, am a Mutuel Clerk, selling mutuel tickets to racing patrons who gamble on race tracks that simulcast from all over the world. We all work and all work has dignity.

I noticed from your bio page that you are a criminal defense attorney by trade. Good for you. I believe in the Constitution and that everyone accused of a crime deserves representation. But I must remind you that not everyone thinks like me. You may be subject to criticism, on occasions, for defending heinous criminals who wreak havoc on society. Drug Dealers, Rapists, maybe even murderers. That's OK, I understand because I'm a proud Liberal. I can't think of ever siding with the Christian Coalition or right wingers on any issue. They are the type of people who want to tear down our constitution or degrade the type of work somebody does. I don't tell other Americans how to run their lives, because, you see, I'm a Liberal. If somebody chooses a life style I might not choose for myself, I still support that decision.That's because I'm a Liberal. If a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy, I will support that desision, it doesn't matter her reason, because I'm a Liberal. If a woman chooses to come to term, and give life, I am willing to pay more in taxes (even though I have no children) in order to house, educate, cloth and provide health care to that child, because I'm a Liberal. If a person decides to drink alcohol, even to excess, even though I only occasionally drink, I would not pass judgment, because I'm a Liberal. If that same person needs help for that same excess, I'm for government sponsored treatment to attend to that need, because I'm a Liberal. The same goes for Drugs, I'm basically a libertarian on that score, too. Let adults make adult decisions.

And finally, if a man decides to be a criminal defense attorney and defend the most heinous criminals in society, I support that decision, too. I pass no judgment. You see, those who do pass judgment, who want to tell others how to live their lives, that they know better about who you should love, when you should give birth, what you should consume, where you should work and how you should spend your own money, they are, well, Conservatives, and as I say, I am a proud Liberal representing people who work hard for a living, and vote for Democrats. That's why Massachusetts is so deep blue, because people who think like me are in the vast majority.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 05:27 PM

24. Great post

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 09:12 PM

28. Amen brother.

Also, with the disastrous Citizens United decision, unions are the only entity big enough to fight the billionaires and superpacs.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Fri Aug 31, 2012, 09:35 PM

32. Is FOX a union shop?

SAG/AFTRA, IATSE, DGA, IBT?

Any one of those unions could shut FOX down in a heartbeat.

And if FUX is signatory to union contracts, then their performers must be union members.

So, are Limpballs, O'Lielly, InSannity, SheWhoMustNotBeNamed SAG/AFTRA members?

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Sat Sep 1, 2012, 10:56 PM

36. Great post!


K&R!

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 08:41 AM

38. +1, l c., from Local # 5, Pgh., PA.

Rank-and-file. Wife is AFT # 400, her national prez is marching here on Labor Day.

At the Philly labor jamboree a few weeks back, maybe you caught the young woman organizer's speech about intimidation on the job by Human 'Resource' consultants, against union efforts to organize the casino workers up the river?

Hopefully, some Pitt Labor Day marchers will continue walking past the parade route's terminus a few hundred yards to support UNITE hotel workers' action picket of the Hilton Wyndham, by Point State Park. Our Transit Workers, CWA & IBEW telecom workers, Postal Workers, SEIU, Teachers, and Ironworkers, have already had high-profile mass actions all around town.

Happy Labor Day to all. Labor isn't afraid of how weak we are. We're afraid of how strong we are.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 09:00 AM

39. You're lucky

on the timing of the contract renewal. Last year, IBEW local one (St. Louis) took an 8.77% pay cut and gave up some overtime and shift pay.

http://www.ibewlocal1.org/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=68&Itemid=62

Good for you, though. It looks like you guys did a great job at the table.

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Response to pintobean (Reply #39)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 06:52 PM

40. Kick for Labor Day

 

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