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Gallup: America Supports Workers Bush Denies Workers Bargaining Rights Heartland Labor Forum Hosts Labor News NAACP Supports EFCA

Vol. 91 Issue 4

“A Voice for Working Kansans since 1919”

—2 —5 —7 —8

January 2009

Foreign Auto Makers to Set Wages For Our Auto Workers? By Pat Lehman, Grand Lodge Representative, IAMAW, Retired

That is the demand made by Republican Senators including Kansas’ own Pat Roberts, who is turning his back on the 60,000 KANSAS jobs dependent on the U.S. auto industry. Amazing, simply amazing! These same Senators didn’t bat an eye when $200 BILLION U.S. taxpayers’ money bailed out AIG because it insured worthless mortgages, then gave $700 Billion to banks for making home loans to folks who had no hope of making ballooning payments, another $120 Billion each to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for making worthless loans, BUT when the auto makers asked for a $25 Billion LOAN, these same Senators who happily bailed out the big boys, their buddies on Wall Street, said “NO.” The reason, is very simple. Many of these Senators are from Southern states where foreign car manufacturers have been given millions of taxpayer’s money to locate NON-UNION auto plants. Tennessee gave one company $500,000,000.00 just to locate a plant there. And these same Senators have colluded with the companies to keep the workers from organizing a union. As usual, Union Auto Workers

wages are being inflated by the company, the news media, and these lying Senators. The figures being given out include medical

benefits for retirees, future projected medical costs, overtime, shift differences, etc. In many cases, the average wage is actually

$17-$18 per hour. Hardly a huge wage in comparison with management wages, or CEOs, or U.S. Senators whose perks are also

Automakers’ Survival Crucial for Kansas By Kansas Reps. Dennis McKinney and Jim Ward One out of every 10 jobs in this country is auto-related, with the Big Three supporting 5 million jobs across all 50 states. This is why the federal proposal to help the auto industry is so important – especially in Kansas, where thousands are employed at General Motors Corp.’s Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kan. In these difficult times, history is the best teacher. In 1979, Chrysler faced a situation remarkably similar to the current crisis facing the auto industry. After a year of record-high gas prices and economic turmoil, and with a stockpile of inefficient vehicles, Chrysler was on the verge of bankruptcy. In response, President Jimmy Carter proposed a $1.5 billion loan-guarantee program. The plan required Chrysler to curtail executive pay, generate major concessions from unions and adhere to strict government oversight. The loans were paid off within three years, and thousands of jobs were saved. Additionally, the government made more than $330 million from fees and the sale of stock warrants. As we work through the crisis of 2008, hardworking Kansas families must not be expected to foot the bill for executive mismanagement. The United Auto Workers have been actively working with GM leaders to help restructure and save the company. Retiree health insurance already has been conceded as part of negotiations. Reports that Fairfax workers make $76 an hour are highly exaggerated. Midline employees at the Fairfax plant make about $15 to $16 an hour, with average earnings at about $26 an hour and highly skilled professionals earning about $32 an hour. This is well below the inflated rate circulating in the media. The auto industry must be saved, but not at the expense of workers. GM’s Fairfax Assembly Plant employs 2,640 workers and pays more than $10 million a year in property taxes. With the Fairfax plant already facing slowdowns and layoffs, a GM bankruptcy would devastate the Kansas economy. In addition to the employees actually working at the plant, numerous local businesses rely on the plant’s purchase of their products and services. A crash in this backbone of America’s manufacturing sector would create a devastating ripple effect, leaving just a matter of time before the aerospace industry (which already has lost 1,800 jobs in Wichita in recent months) could suffer the same fate. We all have a vested interest in urging our senators and congressmen to save the auto industry, protecting both Kansas jobs and the hard workers filling them. Dennis McKinney, of Greensburg, is House minority leader and incoming state treasurer. Jim Ward, of Wichita, is House assistant minority leader.

Baby, it’s cold outside:

KANSEL Holiday Party

KANSEL, the Kansas School for Effective Learning, held its annual holiday party on Dec. 9, 2008, at its new building at 2212 E. Central. Despite a blizzard, several stalwarts attended and enjoyed holiday festivities. Carolyn Bunch, Executive Director of KANSEL, and Roger Stamback, 834, KANSEL President, let us in on a secret: 2009 is the 20th anniversary of the founding of KANSEL and they are planning a big celebration! Stay tuned for details.

[L-R] Les Richardson, Carpenter’s Union 201; Roger Stamback; Allene Cantrell, Recording Secretary, KANSEL; Tim Franta, President, Local Lodge 733; Nikki Omenski, Director of Marketing; and KANSEL student Taylor. [Photo and copy by Stuart Elliott, APWU, and Webmaster of]

mind-boggling, especially the gold-plated retirement plan paid for with U.S. taxpayers’ money! But these Senators are demanding U.S. Auto Workers take yet ANOTHER pay cut so they earn NO MORE than the non-union auto workers in the Southern states. In other words, U.S. workers are supposed to let foreign car manufacturers tear up their union contract, and set whatever wages they decide the workers should earn.

[Set Wages for All? Continued on page 2]

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Green Activists Find New Ally in U.S. Unions Poland, Dec. 14, 2008 – Some U.S. labor groups that have long feared environmental campaigns as a threat to American jobs are starting to see advantages in going green. This evolution was clear at this week’s U.N. climate talks in Poland, where several American labor groups and environmental activists made joint appeals for policies that would promote hightech renewable energy as the answer to both climate change and job losses. About 25 representatives of U.S. unions were in Poznan – about twice the number at last year’s U.N. talks in Bali, Indonesia – representing workers from the electrical, transit, steel, service and other sectors. “There is a very wide crosssection of American unions that reflects the growing engagement of American unions’ support of climate change policies,” said David Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance. The group was founded by the United Steelworkers, North America’s largest manufacturing union, and

the Sierra Club, the United States’ largest and oldest grass-roots environmental group. “There’s a power in the joint vision that we just don’t have functioning on our own,” added Foster, who was for 16 years a United Steelworkers regional director. The Blue Green Alliance was founded in 2006 and expanded this autumn to include three more unions and another green group. Environmental protection and labor rights have intersected before, especially in past battles to eliminate toxins and other pollutants from the workplace. But the two sides have also found themselves at odds. Unions have often seen nature lovers as idealists willing to sacrifice American jobs for the sake of endangered species. Some coal industry workers remain hostile to efforts that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by closing down coal-fired plants. But both groups also have felt growing pressure over the past decade because of manufacturing

GALLUP: America Still Strongly

Supports Unions

job losses in the American heartland and what they see as an erosion of workers’ rights and weakening environmental protection. Environmentalists want clean energy – such as wind and solar power – to reduce gases that degrade the environment. It is in their interest that new jobs in the sector offer good pay and benefits, to win labor’s support for their agenda. David Hawkins, director of climate programs with the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, attributes the deepening cooperation to the need to fight opponents who say you cannot protect the environment and preserve jobs at the same time. “They keep on shouting that scare campaign at every opportunity they get,” Hawkins said. “An alliance is a powerful way of sending the message that you can have both.” Margrete Strand Rangnes, a Sierra Club representative, says environmentalists are also fighting for workers to have stronger protections as a way of protecting whistleblowers who speak out against environmental and other violations. Some unions see jobs in the renewable energy sector as a way to create a new wave of well-paid jobs that will replace the nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs that have disappeared over the past decade.

January 2009 By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press Writer

Robert Baugh, chairman of AFLCIO’s energy task force, said his federation still has “some differences” with environmental groups, but that “we also have a lot of common interests.” As environmentalists push for clean energy policies, he said it’s vital that labor get involved to ensure that as those policies are put in place, workers’ interests are not ignored. “The climate crisis and a new energy policy is an opportunity for our country to actually have a strategy about the environment, about manufacturing,” Baugh said. “We think that by addressing the environmental crisis, we actually can have the opportunity to create good, green jobs.” Baugh noted, for instance, that there are about 8,000 parts in a windmill – and that his group wants to ensure that American workers will be making them. The labor leaders who are going green like to cite examples of where green policies have led to job creation. Pennsylvania, for example, passed renewable energy standards several years ago that persuaded the Spanish wind energy company Gamesa to open up four plants in Pennsylvania, creating 1,400 new jobs making wind turbines. And last year, about 500 laid-off steel workers were called back to work in two steel plate mills Gary, Indiana, to produce steel for wind turbines.

By Mike Hall on December 2, 2008 Despite the best efforts of corporate-backed anti-union groups, the Bush White House and anti-worker politicians demonizing unions on the campaign trail, most Americans continue to approve of unions, as they have for the past seven decades. The latest update from Gallup on union support shows 59 percent of Oh, and let’s look at Korea, Japan, [Set Wages for All? those surveyed back unions, while 29 percent disapprove of them. Malaysia, etc. and demand our According to Gallup: Continued from page 1] Senators and Congressmen work Americans have generally held a favorable view of unions for If you had any doubt this group of for the same wages their members decades — with no less than 55 percent of Americans saying supposed-to-be United States of Parliament are paid, and with they approve of labor unions in Gallup polls conducted from Senators are simply union-busters only the perks the foreign politi1936 to 2008. at heart, this should open even the cians get! After all, if the business Not surprisingly, most of the support comes from Democrats and eyes of the blind. leaders from these countries are independents. Seventy-two percent of Democrats approve of labor So I have a proposal for them: going to set wages for U.S. unions, compared with 63 percent of independents but only 38 percent How about foreign auto manufacworkers, then members of Conof Republicans. turers setting the wages for all of gress should be willing to make Also, most respondents said unions should have more influence (35 management, including the CEOs. some sacrifices too, it’s only fair. percent) or the same amount of influence (28 percent), while 32 percent In most of those countries, top Or, these guys might decide to want to see less union influence. management makes no more than start representing U.S. workers four or five times the average wage and U.S. companies instead of The results reflect what other pollsters have found about public support paid in the factory, not the 500 of unions. More than three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) support pandering to the foreigners. How strong laws, such as the Employee Free Choice Act, that give employees times common in the U.S. about a LOAN to U.S. Auto the freedom to make their own choice about whether to have a union in And while we are at it, how about companies to keep 3.5 million jobs their workplace without interference from management. Also, some 60 demanding the top boys on Wall in the U.S.? How about caring million workers say they would join a union today if they could. Street (who bankrupted our about the current and future U.S. country) be dumped on the street citizens who need those jobs? It is For more from the Dec. 1 update by Gallup, go to without their usual golden time they decide to act like 112717/Americans-Remain-Broadly-Supportive-Laborparachute? AMERICANS! Unions.aspx?version=print. Resolve to get involved with your local!

Foster said unions and green groups have waged joint lobbying efforts nationwide for laws increasing energy efficiency and promoting renewable energies, and they have teamed up for numerous court battles against companies that violate workers’ rights and environmental standards. For example, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club have endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act, a union-backed bill that would protect workers’ rights to join unions. The Sierra Club has mobilized members to write to their Congress members to support the bill. Abraham Breehey, a senior union official, said workers are starting to shake off their belief that green energy spells doom rather than opportunity. Breehey pointed to the case of a group of Indiana blacksmiths who recently struck a multimillion dollar deal to produce a new hammer for heavy-duty work in building wind turbines. That “was a light bulb moment, and we realized that there must be more examples where job opportunities on their face might not seem like green jobs but end up being part of the green economy,” said Breehey, of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers.

Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., Day on Jan. 15! Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. An African American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the American civil rights movement, his main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the United States. A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 and served as its first president. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and discrimination through non-violent means. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day becamea U.S. national holiday in 1986.

January 2009

The PlainDealer — 3

WorldWide Work: New Works Worth Noting (With a nod to MLK, Jr.) World Wide Work is a free bulletin published by the American Labor Education Center, an independent nonprofit founded in 1979. The Center’s website,, offers free downloadable tools for grassroots education and organizing. *The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones (HarperOne). This African American activist has emerged as a leading voice for attacking both poverty and climate change by putting millions of people to work greening our economy. He talks in forthright terms about the need to unite white environmentalists and communities of color for a common agenda, gives examples of innovative organizing already going on, and lays out specific policies that can be pursued locally and by the Obama administration. *Obama’s Challenge by Robert Kuttner (Chelsea Green). With the new U.S. president facing enormous political and economic pressure from corporate special interests, progressives must organize to push an agenda for real change. This economics writer makes an important contribution to the process by laying out a program and how Obama can achieve it. *Speaking Treason Fluently by Tim Wise (Soft Skull). Wise, who wrote the most insightful commentary during the 2008 presidential elections about the double standards applied to Barack Obama because of race, has compiled his anti-racist writings of the past ten years in this follow-up to his book White Like Me. He consistently makes white readers see their own internalized assumptions in new ways, whether writing about “reverse racism,” class, immigration, profiling, or pop culture. Even sports: Noting that many don’t consider Barry Bonds’ records untainted given the steroid era, he asks why baseball records set in Babe Ruth’s time should count without an asterisk given that they were set without facing black or Latino competition and thus can’t be compared to today’s achievements? *Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan edited by Iraq Veterans Against the War and Aaron Glantz (Haymarket). More than 50 veterans give personal testimony that rarely appears in the U.S. media about the atrocities

they saw, racism and sexism in the military, the crisis in veterans’ health care, and corporate war profiteering. *Holy Roller by Diane Wilson (Chelsea Green). Wilson’s books are a delightful antidote to the homogenization of American culture. Her first, An Unreasonable Woman, told of her odyssey as a shrimp boat operator who took on a global chemical company that was polluting her bay. Her latest tells of her childhood among Holy Rollers in rural Texas. She writes the way people from that time and place talked and thought, giving the reader a total immersion experience. *Mine Work by Jim Davidson (Utah State University Press, 1999). A gem of a mystery set in a town in the Southwest in the 1950s where a mining company used Navajo labor to break a union organizing drive. *An Unknown God by Tony Equale ( A thoughtful ex-priest who has spent much of his life doing blue-collar work and helping poor people organize critiques the traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church and explores the future of faith in today’s world. *Understanding the US-Iran

Crisis and Ending the Iraq War by Phyllis Bennis (Olive Branch). Two timely and readable pocketsized primers organized around the questions any layperson would ask. *Shopping for Porcupine by Seth Kantner (Milkweed). The author of the novel, Ordinary Wolves, now provides a revealing nonfiction account of his life in Arctic Alaska, complete with stunning photos. *Depraved Indifference by Patrice Woeppel ( The workers’ compensation system does more to protect corporations than injured workers, according to this well-researched analysis that draws on a number of actual cases, including the author’s own injury while working in a hospital. The final chapter gives her prescription for change. *All You Can Eat by Joel Berg (Seven Stories). An activist gives his view of how hunger in America could be ended under the Obama administration. The cost would equal 2 percent of the net worth of the 400 richest Americans. *Laid Off, Laid Low edited by Katherine S. Newman (Columbia University Press). Five scholarly essays study the economic, psychological, and political consequences of increased

employment insecurity in the U.S. *Reproduce & Revolt edited by Josh MacPhee and Favianna Rodriguez (Soft Skull). A bilingual (English/Spanish) collection of more than 500 radical political graphics that may be reproduced for free. FILM *Trouble the Water ( A resident of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, too poor to evacuate, used a camcorder to capture what she and her neighbors were experiencing during and after Katrina. A professional film maker then teamed with her to produce a documentary that is highly unusual because the perspective is from the inside in real time. MUSIC *Troubled the Water ( The young black woman who shot most of the footage for the film described above has recorded moving rap songs about her experiences in the poorest section of New Orleans. *Red House 25 (Red House). A compilation of 64 tracks by the label’s artists to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Comes with a 48-page book. Artists include Greg Brown, Peter Ostroushko, John Gorka,

Lucy Kaplansky, Kate McKenzie, Guy Davis, Loudon Wainwright III, The Wailin’ Jennys, Jorma Kaukonen, Eliza Gilkyson, and many more. *Polk Miller and His Old South Quartette (Tompkins Square). If you are interested in an historical curiosity, this CD presents a scratchy recording from a lively touring group from the 1890s and early 1900s made up of a white banjo player and four African American musicians. WEBSITES * is a site being developed to provide consumers with instant information about social responsibility ratings for products, even as they shop. Check it out and give the developers your feedback. * tells you what shareholder resolutions are being introduced at companies in which you own stock, along with social responsibility ratings for mutual funds. The Plaindealer (ISSN 0898-4360) Periodicals Postage Paid at Wichita, KS

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Plaindealer 3830 S. Meridian Ave. Wichita, KS 67217–3704 (316) 529-8513 Melanie Jenney, Editor email: Board of Directors Judy Pierce, President, Labor Federation Brenda Honse, Vice President (CWA Local 6402) Tim Franta, Sec./ Treas. (IAM Local 733) Stuart Elliott (APWU Local 735) Deb Boatright (Local 708) Dave Philpott (IAM Local 774) Kathy Petersen (IAM Local 839) Ralph Stout (Local 834) John Shepherd Jr. (UA Local 441) Advertising and stories are due by the 15th of each month. Subscription rates are $15 per year. Special rates available to union members and locals subscribing as a body. Founded in 1919 by Tom Tilma, the Plaindealer is the official publication of the Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation, AFLCIO, and covers news of interest to working people. Story suggestions and letters to the editor should be sent to the PlainDealer at 3830 S. Meridian Ave., Wichita, KS 67217–3704; by email to, or call (316) 529–8513 with your ideas. To be considered for publication, letters to the editor must be signed and include the author’s telephone number. Views expressed in letters to the editor are not necessarily the views of the Plaindealer, its Board of Directors or affiliated unions. Published monthly by Plaindealer Publishing, Inc. at 3830 S. Meridian Ave., Wichita, KS, 67217.

Support the Employee Free Choice Act! Sign a card today!

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Chicago Workers to Rest of Country: “Don’t Let it Die!”

January 2009

By David Bacon, News Analysis, New America Media, 12/11/08, Note: The sit-in by 240 union workers who were abruptly terminated from their jobs at a Chicago window-manufacturing plant last week raises the question of the rights of workers in the midst of a national economic crisis. Late last night, the workers ended their sit-in after the Bank of America, which had cut off financing for the company, agreed to lend the company $1.35 million to pay workers their severance packages. JPMorgan Chase, which owns 40 percent of the windows company, said it would pay an additional $400,000. NAM associate editor David Bacon examines the issue. Chicago worker Raul Flores’s job is gone, but he’s still there. “I’ve got a family to support, so I’ve got to do whatever it takes,” he says. “The economic situation is not good, but I can’t just wait for something to happen to me.” That puts Flores in the same boat as millions of other U.S. workers. Last month alone 533,000 workers lost their jobs, the highest figure in 34 years. A week ago, the heads of the big three auto companies were in Washington D.C., pleading for loans to keep their companies afloat. As a price, lawmakers and pundits told them, they had to become “leaner and meaner,” and in response, General Motors announced it would close nine plants and put tens of thousands of workers in the street. Ford and Chrysler described a similar jobelimination strategy. Flores didn’t just accept the elimination of his job. Instead, he sat for six days in the Chicago plant where he worked, together with 240 other union members at Republic Windows and Doors. Republic workers were not demanding the reopening of their closed factory, at least, not yet. They are fighting for severance and benefits to help them survive the unemployment they know awaits them. Yet their occupation can’t help but raise deeper questions about the right of workers to their jobs. Can a return to the militant tactics of direct action, that produced the greatest gains in union membership, wages

and job security in U.S. history, overturn “the inescapable logic of the marketplace?” Can employers, and the banks that hold their credit lines, be forced to keep plants open? Unlike the auto giants, Republic is not threatening bankruptcy. It makes a “green product,” EnergyStar compliant doors and windows that should be one of the bedrock industries for a new, more environmentally sustainable economy. But Bank of America, as it was receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, pulled the company’s credit line, leaving workers in the lurch. Perhaps that alone led President-elect Barack Obama to support the workers. The bank-enforced closure undermines his program for using environmentally sustainable jobs to replace those eliminated in the spiraling recession. He called Republic workers “absolutely right. What’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy.” Federal law requires companies to give employees 60 days notice of a plant closure, or pay them 60 days severance pay, to give them breathing room to find other jobs. Republic workers got three days, and no money. “They knew they’d be out on the street penniless,” says Leah Fried, organizer for Local 1110 of the United Electrical Workers. “When the negotiating committee came back to the factory to report that the company didn’t even show up to talk with them, the workers were so enraged they voted unanimously not to leave until they got their severance and vacation pay.” While the workers acted to gain their legally-mandated rights, the

plant occupation resurrects a tactic with a radical history. In 1936, auto workers occupied the huge Fisher Body plants in Flint, Mich., and when the battle was over, the United Auto Workers was born. Sitdown strikes spread across the country like wildfire. Occupying production lines in plant after plant, workers won unions, better wages and real changes in their lives. Seventy years later, the workers who have inherited that legacy of unionization and security are on the brink of losing everything. Just since 2006 the United Auto Workers has lost 119,000 members. The threat of plant closure has been used to cut the wages of new hires in half, to $14.50, the same wage paid on the window lines at Republic, where the union is only four years old. Flores certainly hopes that those whose livelihoods are in peril will rediscover the tactic. “This is the start of something,” he urges. “Don’t let it die. Learn something from it.” And the sit-in was successful. After a thousand people rallied in front of Bank of America, the bank yesterday announced it would put up $1.35 million in loans to pay the money owed the workers. Flores and his co-workers then voted to end the occupation. Fran Tobin, mid-west organizer for Jobs with Justice, a coalition of labor and community groups with chapters around the country, shares that optimism. “I think this is not the last time we’re going to see American workers occupying American plants as part of a move to save jobs and turn things around,” he says.

Organizers for Jobs with Justice are fanning out with a program they call a “Peoples’ Bailout.” “We need to ask, ‘What kind of an economy and recovery do we want?’” Tobin emphasizes. He lists funds for a jobs program, rather than huge loans to banks, a moratorium on home foreclosures, investment in infrastructure repair, and helping local and state governments (and public worker) survive the crisis without massive budget cuts. Flores, Tobin and Fried all agree that none of those demands can be won without unions and workers willing to fight for them. That makes the Republic plant occupation more than just a local

confrontation. “This might not be the right tactic in every situation, but people know we need to be fighting back,” Fried says. Will the unions in auto plants and other workplaces hit by layoffs take up the challenge of the Republic workers? To Flores, they have to do something more than just watch the elimination of their jobs. “We’ve got to fight for our rights,” he emphasizes. “It’s not fair that they just kick us out on the street with nothing. Somebody has to respond.” NAM David Bacon is the author of “Illegal People — How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants.”

Who Was Jobs With Justice’s Grinch of the Year for 2008? Voters in the Jobs with Justice (JwJ) ninth annual Grinch of Year contest picked the entire lot of Wall Street executives whose unchecked corporate greed led to our nation’s economic disaster. Each December, voters in the Grinch of the Year contest tap the CEO, corporation or politician who has done the most to “scrooge” workers. Over the years, especially under the Bush administration, the bank chiefs, hedge fund sorcerers and stock traders successfully lobbied for deregulation of the financial industry and, in turn, made record profits. But at a price. Millions of Americans lost good jobs and the nation’s economy is in the worst shape it’s been since the Depression. Now that the bottom has fallen out of the market, Wall Street is sending the bill to working people—the very ones who have been forced out of their homes, out of their jobs, out of their health care and out of their pensions by Wall Street’s greed. Too bad Wall Street execs won’t experience the same holiday epiphany of Seuss’ Grinch and return the loot. Now that would be a holiday miracle!

Resolve to get involved with your local!

January 2009

The PlainDealer — 5


Average Female Worker Loses $434K in Lifetime Earnings to Pay Discrimination Press Associates, Inc. (PAI) – 12/12/2008 The greatest difference between (PAI)—Lilly Ledbetter, the men and women workers was in longtime Goodyear tire supervisor legal services. That’s because whose sexual pay discrimination while 51% of the legal profession case against her firm went all the way to the Supreme Court – where is female, the women start out in lower pay brackets and are she lost – lost $223,776 in lifetime concentrated in the lower-paying earnings due to 19 years of areas of the legal world. The men discrimination at the tire firm’s are the high-paid law firm partners, Gadsden, Ala., plant, a new report the women are lower-paid legal says. aides. As it turns out, Ledbetter was The smallest lifetime gap was somewhere between average and among “installation, maintenance lucky. and repair workers,” where the Her earnings loss was half the difference was only $84,000 over a national average of lifetime working woman’s lifetime. But earnings losses, $434,000 per even then, there was a problem, woman, that female workers suffer Arons noted: The profession is compared to male counterparts in only 4% female. the same jobs. “It should be hard to have any gap But Ledbetter’s Goodyear career when virtually no women work in a covered only half of the gentle given field. The fact that a wage gray-haired grandmother’s gap exists at all, despite being the working life. Take those 19 years smallest gap, suggests pay equity and double them, and Lilly remains a large problem in that Ledbetter is a typical female worker in the U.S., the report says. sector. Moreover, it is evident additional effort is needed to At least in Alabama, she wasn’t in better integrate the entire the state where woman worker are workforce,” she said. worst off. Nor, as a company “And even an $84,000 gap, supervisor, was Ledbetter the averaging out to a shortfall of worst off among all female $2,000 a year, can be a large hit to a workers, analysis of federal data family at the lower end of the shows. economic spectrum,” Arons noted. In Lifetime Losses: The Career As for Ledbetter, the earnings gap Wage Gap, Jessica Arons of the in Alabama was $445,000 over a Center for American Progress, a woman’s working career. And for liberal and pro-worker think tank, an average supervisor nationwide, showed lifetime earnings of the male-female lifetime gap was average female workers trailed those of their male counterparts by $635,000. Arons pointed out the lifetime hundreds of thousands of dollars. In one profession, the law, the gap earnings gap has a huge impact on women, men and families. “Lower is $1.48 million. And the pay gap wages for women hurt men and understates the lifetime earnings society as well. American men chasm, Arons noted. Quoting work the longest hours in the Ledbetter, Arons pointed out the industrialized world and have the lifetime gap not only affects a smallest amount of leisure time, woman’s pay but her pension often so that their wives can levels and her Social Security increase the time they spend on earnings base. All are lower. family caregiving duties or in order Arons explained the huge lifetime to make up for their wives’ lower losses occur because the typical wages. “Society, moreover, loses female worker, after adjusting for out on additional tax revenue from other factors, earns 78 cents for women while having to increase every dollar a male worker doing spending on safety net programs the same job earns. Take that and for women who are not paid a multiply it by a woman’s working living wage,” she wrote. career, and compound the gap Arons also suggested six meaevery year, and you get differsures to help close the lifetime ences ranging from $270,000 over 42 years (ages 24-65) in Vermont to earnings gap. Her recommendations included labor-backed almost three times as much legislation to reverse the Supreme ($728,000) in Wyoming.

Court ruling against Ledbetter and other female workers, and the Employee Free Choice Act, labor’s top legislative goal in the next Congress. “This bill would make it easier for employees to form unions, establish stronger penalties for employers who interfere with the right of workers to form a union, and provide mediation and arbitration when necessary to ensure employers bargain with new unions over a first contract in good faith. Union membership increases women’s weekly earnings by 38.2% and men’s by 26.0%. Women of color and low-wage earners are helped even more by unionization,” Arons

As a supervisor, not covered by labor law, she suffered the pay discrimination. At one congressional hearing on legislation – named for her – to overturn the court’s ruling and to let woman workers sue firms for sexual pay discrimination, she told Press Associates Union News Service she believes rank-and-file female workers at Gadsden suffer little pay discrimination. Why? They’re covered Average Female Worker Loses $434K: An average female worker loses $434,000 over her by Goodyear’s working lifetime to sexual pay discrimination on the union contract, with the Steel job. The biggest losers: Women in Wyoming Workers. wrote of the workers’ rights bill. Though Arons did not say so, the pay gap between male and female union wor-kers is smaller than the overall yearly pay gap. The most recent data on median weekly earnings, in 2007, show all working women’s median weekly wages were 80 cents for every dollar a man earned. Union women’s wages were 87 cents per dollar. Ledbetter knows about that, too.

(-$728,000) and in the law (-$1.48 million).

Bush Denies Bargaining Rights to 8,600 Federal Workers

By James Parks on December 2, 2008, on AFL-CIO weblog, In a final-days attack on workers’ rights, President Bush yesterday issued an executive order that denies collective bargaining rights to about 8,600 federal employees who work in national security, law enforcement and intelligence. Nearly 1,000 of the workers currently are represented by a union, and some have been for more than 30 years. The biggest group affected by the order is the 5,000 employees of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which is now part of the Justice Department. Peter Winch, national organizer for AFGE, the largest federal employee union, says the union is determined to fight the executive order. Bush’s actions are within his legal discretion, but he has abused that discretion. There is no reason for this action. Nothing has happened from yesterday to today to change the national security situation to require such a change. We’re asking President-elect Obama when he takes office to review all exclusions [from collective bargaining] since 1978. Several exclusions by this president were not done for national security reasons, but to stop unions. In the executive order, Bush said it would be inconsistent with “national security requirements” to allow the employees to engage in collective bargaining over the conditions of their employment. This is the same rationale the White House used in 2003 to deny bargaining rights to workers at the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) in one of the first shots in the Bush administration’s war on federal workers. Although transportation security officers (TSOs) remain deprived of the freedom to bargain collectively, AFGE has 10,000 TSA members in 22 locals nationwide and regularly represents these employees before the TSA Disciplinary Review Board, the Equal Opportunity Commission, Congress and in the courts. And that number is growing. More than 100 TSOs at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field joined AFGE Local 1040 in August. Says Local 1040 President Greg Gallo: AFGE has stood behind TSOs in Dallas for seven years, but this new local means that TSOs will have a voice at home, not just one nationally. As a member of TSA’s first class in 2001, I have seen the ups and downs at the agency. Unfortunately, there are mostly downs, so an AFGE presence is imperative to boosting confidence and morale. AFGE President John Gage agrees. The new local signifies a growing trend among TSOs that they want local representation, while belonging to the largest—and among the most influential—federal employee union in the nation. The latest executive order also covers certain workers in the Energy Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Air Marshal Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration. Article printed from AFL-CIO NOW BLOG: Support the Employee Free Choice Act! Sign a card today!

6 — The PlainDealer

January 2009

At the Rail

Direct Pipeline

Column by Martin Hawver It’s taken three years, but finally it appears that a state task force is about ready to put together a proposal that would, if it works right, make it less likely that we’ll be in an auto accident with someone without a dime’s worth of insurance. Cities and counties are likely to see a surprise from the Legislature in the upcoming session…the end of the free ride that the state’s “truth in taxation” law has provided them for a decade. That free ride? It allows cities and counties to spend more money with only the minor inconvenience of publishing a legal notice in the local newspaper that the commission is spending more money. That notice, in small type buried in the back of your local newspaper, generally is just an admission that the city or county is adopting a budget that spends more money than the last budget did. And, because that money comes from, well, from you, it would seem to be something that you might want to protest. Well, for the last decade, there really wasn’t any way to protest that local budget. You could read about it if you could find the legal notice and gripe, but there wasn’t a real hammer to use to try to beat it back. In an era when property values—against which local units of government levy taxes—had been rising consistently, local units of government could increase spending without raising the tax mill levy. The same levy rate raises more money when there is more property value to tax. And, as long as valuations rose, local officials could crow that they did nice things for constituents without raising the mill levy. If the valuation of your home increases, and most did in recent years, you write a bigger check and take whatever solace you can from the mill levy not rising. That’s why local officials brag about keeping the mill levy the same, or maybe even lowering it a dab, while still spending more dollars. For a decade, that “truth in taxation” notice was the only real acknowledgement of that increased spending. Once published, local units of government are free to spend more money whether they raise the property tax mill levy or not. Well, a legislative interim committee last week decided, essentially, that tax money is still real money, and whether the mill levy is raised or not, people ought to have the chance to object to the increased spending. A bill that would make that “truth in taxation” notice subject to a protest petition will be introduced in January. Upshot? If enough voters (number not yet determined) of the district sign petitions objecting to the budget, they can force an election on the budget. What’s that mean? Either that the governmental unit adjusts the budget to spend no more money than the previous year, or the budget goes to a vote, at some cost of course, to see whether the governing body has the support of taxpayers for the budget. Likely? The governmental unit will pare the budget to save the cost of the election—and potential political cost of losing the referendum. That’s a big deal, a major sea change for local governments. It’s one thing to publish a notice in the paper; it’s another thing to defend it to an entire community, not just the handful of folks who typically hang around the city council or county commission during tedious and complicated budget discussions. The protest petition? It’s not easy to get people to sign up, and it takes time and coordination, but it is possible. And then, the issue changes from “truth in taxation” to very simply, taxation and what level of local government spending and taxation people are willing to agree to. If the bill passes, and its chances are probably pretty good next session…the free ride is over. Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this statewide political news service, visit the website at

PLUMBERS & PIPEFITTERS LU441 Richard L. Taylor, Business Manager and Financial Secretary-Treasurer


The nationwide economic slowdown is generating much anticipation as to what 2009 will bring to our industry and to Local 441. We have already seen a large number of projects postponed or canceled that would have supplied many man hours for our membership. This is happening in Kansas and across the country and the end result will be unemployment. The drop in the stock market is obviously affecting our Pension Plans and Health and Welfare Plans, but because we have been diligent in creating solid financially funded Richard Taylor Plans, they are holding their own. The deciding factor is time and how long the current situation persists. We will continue to monitor this and notify the membership immediately of any changes. This industry and our Local have survived many ups and downs. There is no doubt that we will persist through this and be stronger for it. Take care of your job and continue to show the professionalism you have in the past so we can continue to secure our hold on the future. We have golf balls, tee shirts, and hats. Come by and get outfitted with Local 441 apparel. Please take time to view your web site. The address is:

Deaths We are sorry to report the death of Brother Henry E. Lige Jr., 54, Pipefitter, residing in Manhattan, KS, passed away on November 19, 2008. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family.

Political Congratulations to our new President Elect Barack Obama. This is one definite bright spot because he is a true friend of labor and the United Association. The UA was the first National Building Trades Union to come out in support of President Obama. We can rejoice in the anticipation of an administration that will look out for our best interest instead of one that is constantly trying to destroy us. Thank you for your participation in the November election. We will continue to build a long-lasting establishment in the political arena of our jurisdiction. We feel that it is critical to maintain a presence politically so that when issues arise; the local will already have an established voice that will be heard. Thank you to all Local 441 members for your support both through your participation in the PAC fund and your involvement and support with various political groups.

Meetings Local Union 441 meetings are being conducted on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 PM at the Union Hall located at 1330 East First Street in Wichita. If other meetings are scheduled, you will be duly notified. NOTE: As of the November 2007 union meeting, we began televising our monthly union meeting to the outlying areas over the Internet. This should allow easier access and participation by the members that reside in those areas.

Retirees Club The next Retirees meetings will be on January 7th, February 4th and March 4th at 10 a.m. at the Hall. Please come and join us! Breakfast is the second Wednesday at 9 a.m. We are meeting at Spears Restaurant, 4323 W Maple from January through November. All retired members and their families are invited to join us. Come enjoy the fellowship! For more information, call Jim Wilbert at 722-6859.

DID YOU KNOW? If you have an AT&T cell phone, you are entitled to a discount on your service. Union staff and officers are entitled to an 18% discount and union members get a 10% discount. To use your discount, simply call customer service and give them these FAN codes (Staff & officers - 45842, Members - 113662). (From Jake Lowen, COPE Director, Wichita-Hutchinson Labor Federation)

Resolve to get involved with your local!

Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming conflict. —Mother


January 2009

The PlainDealer — 7

LOCAL UNION BULLETIN BOARD May the New Year surprise you in unexpected and wonderful ways! Thursday, January 8 Operating Engineers LU101— SPEEA— Wichita Area Union Label—

Regular Meeting, 7 p.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita Midwest Council Meeting, 973 S. Glendale, Wichita E-board, 6:30 p.m.; Regular Meeting, 7:30 p.m

Machinists LL639— Machinists LL733— Machinists Local 2328—

E-board Meeting 8 a.m., Regular meeting 9 a.m. E-Board Meeting at noon, regular meeting at 2 p.m. E-Board Meeting, 9 a.m., 2055 S. Ohio, Salina Regular Meeting, 10 a.m., 2055 S. Ohio, Salina Regular Meeting, 10 a.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita

Saturday, January 10

Machinists Local 834 & 839—

Heartland Labor Forum Heartland Labor Forum presents broadcast programming in the Kansas City area featuring labor news on community radio KKFI 90.1 fm. Live shows are on Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. and on Fridays from 5 to 6 a.m. Archived shows can be heard any time at

December 11 show • Judy Ancel talks to Alexandra Harney about her new book The China Price. What’s the real cost of those Chinese goods? • Molly Madden interviews Leonardo Sakamoto of Free the Slaves in Brazil • Feature: Don’t Be Ladylike with Jan Brill December 19 show • Union Free America –Who’s behind anti-union culture and Why We Need the Employee Free Choice Act. Also listen to Workers Independent News (WIN) at 4:57am, 7:57am, 4:57pm.

Monday, January 12 APWU Local 735— NALC Branch 201— USW Local 01350— SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001— Plumbers & Pipefitters LU441–

Have YOU Signed a Free Choice Act Card?

Regular Meeting, 8 a.m, 6920 W. Pueblo, Wichita 7:30 p.m., NALC Br 201 Union Office 227 S. Pattie, Wichita Regular Meeting, 7:30 p.m., Union Hall 427 N. Main, Hutchinson, 67501 Membership Recruitment / Organizing Committee 973 S. Glendale, Wichita Regular Meeting, 7 p.m., 1330 E. 1st, Wichita

Don’t forget to sign a card to support the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the most important change to U.S. labor law in a generation. The card campaign is part of the AFL-CIO Million Member Mobilization to show the new president and Congress that there is widespread support among working men and women for stronger laws to protect the right to choose a union and stop unfair employer tactics against organizing and bargaining a first contract.

Tuesday, January 13 Machinists Local 708— CWA Local 6402—

Regular Meeting, 7 p.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita E-Board, 5:30 p.m., 530 E. Harry, Wichita Stewards, 7 p.m., 530 E. Harry, Wichita

Wednesday, January 14 IBEW Local 1523— Machinists Local 1989— LU 441 Retirees—

Regular Meeting, 5:30 p.m., 530 E. Harry, Wichita E-Board, 3:40 p.m., Regular meeting, 3:50 p.m. 2005 Kansas Ave., Great Bend, 67530 Breakfast, 9 a.m., Spears, 4323 W. Maple

Thursday, January 15 Salina Labor Federation— Steelworkers Local 13417—

Regular Meeting, 7 p.m., 2055 S. Ohio, Salina Regular Meeting, 7:30 p.m., 530 E. Harry, Wichita

Machinists LL2799—

E-board meeting 9:30 a.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita Regular Meeting, 10:30 a.m. 10 a.m. Regular Meeting, 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita 10 a.m., USW #241, 118½ Pine St., El Dorado, KS??

Keep up to date on local and national union news at

Saturday, January 17

Machinists Local 774— Kansas State Union Label—

Monday, January 19

SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001— Glaziers Local 558—

Membership Recruitment / Organizing Committee, 4:30 p.m., 973 S. Glendale, Wichita L&PA, 4:30 p.m. at SPEEA Hall, 973 S. Glendale 5 p.m., 1330 E. 1st St., Wichita, KS

CWA Local 6402—

Membership Meeting, 6:30 p.m., 530 E. Harry, Wichita

SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001—

Governing Documents Committee, 5 p.m., 973 S. Glendale, Wichita

SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001—

Tuesday, January 20

Wednesday, January 21

Hammond, Zongker & Farris, L.L.C. ATTORNEYS AT LAW City, State, Federal, Trial & Appellate Practice •THOMAS E. HAMMOND •JAMES B. ZONGKER •DAVID H. FARRIS

Thursday, January 22

Wichita Hutchinson Labor Fed— 6:30 p.m., 3219 W. Central Ave., Wichita

Saturday, January 24 Graphics Union Local 575—

10 a.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita

District 70 Retirees—

Luncheon, 11:45 a.m., 3830 S. Meridian, Wichita

Thursday, January 29

Cases involving: Workers Compensation, Auto Accidents, Injury and Wrongful Death NO RECOVERY • NO FEE FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION


727 N. Waco • River Park Plaza • Wichita Mailing Address: P. O. Box 47370 • Wichita, KS • 67201

Support the Employee Free Choice Act! Sign a card today!

Two 639 Brothers Honored for Supporting 834 Strike During the Saturday, Dec. 6, meeting of Local Lodge 639, David Robertson from Local Lodge 834 made a presentation to specifically thank two 639 members who turned out to support 834’s 57-day strike. Almost every day after leaving their second shift at Learjet, Don Wilmoth and Mike Munday joined the picket line at Boeing and walked a fourhour shift. Robertson joked that, during that David Robertson, LL 834, presents Don Wilmoth, time, he saw more of LL 639, with a t-shirt and $50 check in appreciation for them than he did his Wilmoth’s efforts to support the Boeing strike. wife. On a more Wilmoth and Mike Munday walked the 834 picket line serious note, he said daily after their second-shift jobs to support their that they exemplified union brothers and sisters. the kind of solidarity that unions are all about.

Firm Doing Hospital Project Demolition Does Not Provide Health Insurance SALEM, Ore. (PAI)— What was supposed to be a prevailing wage demolition and construction project at the dilapidated Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Ore., has taken a wrong turn with employment of nonunion contractors, the Northwest Labor Press reports. The general contractor for the $250 million project is Hoffman Construction, but the $16 million demolition contract – which includes asbestos removal — went to non-union Konnell Construction, which turned over the asbestos work to IRS Environmental. That firm doesn’t provide health insurance for its mostly Hispanic workforce and is not a staterecognized trainer of apprentices. The whole mess led Laborers Local 320 to hold an informational picket line on Nov. 20 at the hospital, a 107-year-old facility used in the famous film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Black History is Union History “I Am a Man” poster/Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope What a difference 40 years make! Two union shop favorites both have to do with the struggles of people of color to have a better life. One is the “I Am A Man” (https:// I_Am_a_Man_P18C52.cfm) poster, which depicts African American sanitation workers marching in Memphis in 1968 for a union and basic human respect. The other is a two-book set, Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope (, by President-elect Barack Obama, which gives us insight into the forces and beliefs that shaped his path in life. The fact that he will become president on Jan. 20 also is testament to the strength, courage and faith in the cause of justice that animates the entire progressive movement.

NAACP Supports EFCA:

Employee Free Choice Act, Peter Kirsanow, and the NAACP Blog by Kevin Myles, President, Wichita NAACP I came across an article in the National Review on the Employer Free Choice Act, written by Peter Kirsanow of the US Commission on Civil Rights. Longtime readers of the Wichita NAACP blog may remember that I had written previously about Peter Kirsanow’s reappointment to the Civil Rights Commission HERE wherein I noted that: Commissioner Kirsanow was chosen to serve as a federal Civil Rights watchdog, not because of his Civil Rights background or work in the field, in fact, quite the opposite is true. Kirsanow was a partner with the Cleveland, Ohio law firm of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan, and Aronoff LLP which focused on representing management in employment-related litigation. Placing Kirsanow on the Civil rights Commission is analogous to placing a tobacco lobbyist in the Office of the Kevin Myles, President, Surgeon General. Wichita NAACP Now Commissioner Kirsanow has written a predictable screed in opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act or EFCA. It is predictable in that Mr. Kirsanow’s record is distinguished more by its dogged fidelity to ideology than by its demonstration of fair judgment or commitment to principle. In fact, when President Bush used a recess appointment to name Kirsanow to the National Labor Relations Board, Senator Ted Kennedy issued a statement reading in part, “Mr. Kirsanow’s record as a Member of the Commission on Civil Rights raises serious doubts about his fitness for high office and his commitment to fairness for all Americans.” Now Mr. Kirsanow has taken his opposition to the EFCA public. His argument rests squarely with the provision that would allow workers to unionize by majority sign-up. He postulates that by affording workers the option of using the majority sign-up process, the secret ballot election process would become a thing of the past. And that if that happened, workers’ rights would be infringed upon because they would be forced to make public declarations concerning the desire to or not to unionize... Mr. Kirsanow then (ironically) goes on to evoke civil rights imagery in a couple homespun hypothetical narratives designed to recast his union-busting effort as some noble or historically relevant cause. “Four decades ago, black voters in the Deep South and other regions of the country were subject to threats, intimidation and harassment for attempting to cast a secret ballot.” Kirsanow wrote... Oh. No. You. Didn’t.

Silly Rabbit... The EFCA is a bi-partisan bill, introduced in the House by Rep. George Miller with 233 co-sponsors, and introduced in the Senate by Senator Ted Kennedy and 46 co-sponsors, which would allow workers to form Unions through majority sign-up, help employees secure labor contracts with their employers in a reasonable amount of time through negotiation, mediation, or binding arbitration, and toughen penalties against employers who violate workers rights. The bill passed the House by a 241-185 margin but was stalled in the Senate by a cloture motion and remanded back to the House Education and Labor, Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions where it sits alongside the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Employment non-Discrimination Act, the Student Loan Sunshine Act, and a hundred other acts and resolutions that have no scheduled hearings. The NAACP supports the Employee Free Choice Act. We recognize that union workers currently earn 26% more in median weekly wages than non-union workers; unionized women earn 31% more than their non-union counterparts, and black union workers earn 29% more than non-union African Americans. Furthermore, 75% of union workers have health benefits, compared to 49% of non-union workers. 69% of union workers have short-term disability coverage, compared to 30% of their non-union counterparts. Finally, 82% of union workers get life insurance, compared with 51% of non-union workers. The impact of unions – ensuring that all working Americans are treated well and share in the prosperity – cannot be overstated. Despite the continuing strength and advocacy power of unions, however, some employers continue to treat workers poorly, not paying them a fair wage or providing them with necessary benefits: the purchasing power of workers’ wages is 5% below where it stood 30 years ago. CEO pay has continued to rise and is currently more than 1,000 times the earnings of the average worker. The richest 13,000 U.S. families have nearly as much income as the poorest 200 million combined. And some employers continue to fight the legitimate organization of unions. 70% of American employers in manufacturing threaten to close the plant if workers choose a union. Furthermore, in the 1950s, when 30% of workers belonged to unions, only a few hundred workers suffered retaliation for trying to organize a union; in 1969, the number or workers suffering retaliation was just over 6,000 and by the 1990s more than 20,000 workers each year were victims of discrimination when they tried to organize a union. Now because the motion for cloture failed, the bill is essentially dead unless either nine Senators change their votes, which seems unlikely for this lame-duck session. However, it is very likely that we will see this bill, along with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, resurface in a slightly modified form in the next Congress.

Plain Dealer, 01/2009  

Wichita Area Union Newsletter

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