Fallout from Wisconsin battle between DNC/Unions and Gov. Walker

And then there was one less money making machine for the democrats in WI:

The Teaching Assistants’ Association at the University of Wisconsin at Madison dates to 1966. In 1970, following a four-week strike, the graduate students at Madison became the first T.A. union to win a contract. Over the years, the union — affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers — has been a leader in the drive to promote collective bargaining for graduate student workers.

Last week, after hours of debate, the union’s members voted not to seek state certification to continue to act as a collective bargaining agent. Union leaders said that the vote was a close one (they declined to reveal the totals), and taken with very mixed feelings by both those seeking to continue state certification and those arguing against. Those who carried the day argued that the new state law designed to limit the power of public employee unions made it impossible to operate effectively, and that the organization will be able to do more for T.A.s by not seeking to be certified as an official union.

Under the new state law, pushed by Governor Scott Walker, public employee unions like the one that represents Wisconsin T.A.s must be “certified” with a vote of members each year. Typically, once unions win a vote to represent a bargaining unit, they do not need to return for elections year after year — if ever. Further, under the new law, the unions can negotiate only for limited wage increases; they can’t negotiate over benefits, working conditions or other issues.

As I predicted back when this battle came to my attention: when democracy was finally introduced to these funding machines for the very WI democrats that union bosses would end up “bargaining with” for more money and power, these unions would all wither like vampires exposed to sunlight. Walker’s new law was not opposed by the left and the union bosses because it was going to rob employees of their income, benefits, or barganing power: it was opposed by the left and the bosses, and opposed in a dragged out, no holds barred, scorched earth campaign that failed anyway, because without forced union dues and any real reason for the union bosses to serve the union membership – to earn their confidence and vote by wisely spending their dues, so to speak – which the previous system basically insulated union bosses from, they simply could not survive as an entity or keep doing what they have been doing to the WI tax payers.

Walker’s new bill made dues a voluntary thing for members, but more importantly, it required annual recertification for organized public labor unions, and it is obvious that these unions can not exist when their membership has both the freedom to vote to recertify or to withould dues if they don’t like what is being done with their money, and the response of the union bosses backed that assertion/opinion up with this admission:

Union leaders said that they couldn’t function well if they had to effectively be in a perpetual organizing drive for the annual union votes, and also if they had to pay annual fees to be certified. “Our membership was keenly aware of the sort of resources and energy it would take in order to hold on,” said Adrienne Pagac, co-president of the union and a doctoral student in sociology at Madison. She said that the leaders of the union did not make any recommendation to the members on how to vote, and that the AFT did not seek to influence the vote, opting to let the rank and file make the call.

Seeking certification year after year, she said, “would have meant diverting resources and neglecting all of the other things we do for members – representing them at the work site, being advocates for them, engaging our community.” Pagac added that “being a union member is not just about sitting across the table from management and hammering out a contract. It’s about democracy in the workplace.”

WTF is she talking about? Perpetual organizing drive? That’s al union bosses did anyway: campaign for democrats and live high off the hog, in the most undemocratic system possible to their membership. What really went down is that they did the math, figured out they wouldn’t be able to get anything like the money they where siphoning off their membership now that dues were voluntary, and more importantly, realized they would have to work at keeping members happy to get recertification every year, and figured it was not worth the effort. Especially with their perks all but gone. So now they are decertifying that union. Win-win for the T.A.s and the tax payers of Wisconsin, in my opinion. Huge loss for the democrat machine and the union bosses that lived large & in charge off their membership. Next please.

Comments are closed.

  1. TxAg94

    It’s funny, the gal at the end claims that basically campaigning to get the members to vote to recertify each year would be too much work. But then she says they don’t tell their members how to vote ot try to influence them at all. Not a very good B.S. artist. It occurs to me that if unions are so awesome that sh** would sell itself.

    I wonder if any of the union members are waking up to the fact that getting rid of the union is like getting a raise? I know a lot of unions do a lot of good but maybe it’s time, in a lot of cases, to start the organizing process over. They have lost sight of what they are meant to do.

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  2. Hal_10000

    I’m as anti-union as they come, but I think you’re going a bit far. Yearly certification *is* a huge mess. Imagine if a business has to re-incorporate every year, how much money they would burn. As long as we keep card check away and still allow decertification, I’m OK.

    I don’t think our government should be supporting unions. But I don’t think they should be going out of their way to hurt them either. Unions aren’t evil; it’s their strangle-hold on the political process that is.

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  3. AlexInCT *

    I’m as anti-union as they come, but I think you’re going a bit far. Yearly certification *is* a huge mess. Imagine if a business has to re-incorporate every year, how much money they would burn. As long as we keep card check away and still allow decertification, I’m OK.

    Businesses have to do far worse than reincorporate each year already Hal. Far freaking worse! They have to file tax returns to the IRS and their respective states, file all other kinds of nonsense paperwork, being forced to jump through hoops, with various other government agencies if they are in one of these target industries that the big government supporters love to pick on, and in general have to deal with more regulation and bullshit on a daily basis that the worst scenario you can paint me for annual union recertification. Even I as a citizen have to deal with far more government bullshit than they would. So I am sorry if I can’t shed a tear for the unions supposed problem selling themselves to the membership. Especially if it doesn’t come with government confiscating money from the membership for them.

    I don’t think our government should be supporting unions. But I don’t think they should be going out of their way to hurt them either. Unions aren’t evil; it’s their strangle-hold on the political process that is.

    The only way either of these items in Walker’s bill hurts unions is if they where not returning the value to their members for what they where taking. Any union that was doing that shouldn’t have a bit of a problem getting members to recertify each year nor collecting dues. If these public unions are spending their dues & time on union business, like recertification, they wouldn’t have much time or money to meddle with any kind of politics.

    That the most ardent and vocal group against the Walker bill – the TAA was instrumental in all those “protests” that destroyed property in the WI capital – chose to close shop rather than deal with this proves that at least one of those two recipients of largesse that where benefitting massively from forced dues, the union bosses, with little if any accountability to the membership, did the math and concluded the effort to collect dues and recertify, which also likely meant the removal of the perks & benefits they now have, outweighed the effort to keep the union alive.

    When unions go back to solely serving their membership without attempting to bankrupt the state (or the direct empoloyer), irregardless of party affiliation or political agenda, I think they will find neither recertifcation nor due collection that troublesome. They will also suddenly find people a lot more supportive of them and their existence. But as long as they are money making engines for democrat campaign coffers and their union boss buddies, they deserve to fry.

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  4. Seattle Outcast

    I belong to a professional organization that sucks up $150 a year every year – they don’t have to advertise at all, the members do that for them.

    How about the unions actually provide value/incentive for people to join?

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  5. richtaylor365

    When unions go back to solely serving their membership without attempting to bankrupt the state (or the direct empoloyer), irregardless of party affiliation or political agenda, I think they will find neither recertifcation nor due collection that troublesome.

    This needs some tidying up a bit. Unions never intentionally attempt to bankrupt the state, that would be counter intuitive, like killing the milk cow, the problem is that that the state’s finances is not their concern, getting the best deal for their members, that is their concern. Don’t forget how the process works and where the loyalties lie. It is a negotiation, with the union bosses trying to get the best deal possible. The state also negotiates and their job is to give up as little as possible. They (the state negotiators) are in a much better position to know what they can afford and what would hurt them financially. Now if the state acquiesces to a deal that puts them in a bind, who’s fault is that? Certainly not the union’s fault, they did their job. For every union overreach, every sweetheart deal that gives them more than they deserve and every financially strapped state out there that now can’t afford those lavish collective bargaining agreements, put the blame where it is most deserved, those idiot state negotiators that do not do their job very well and gave up the farm for little in return.

    I belong to a professional organization that sucks up $150 a year every year

    Given what many public employee unions charge for dues, that is a bargain. When I quit working I was paying just under 50 bucks a month union dues.

    How about the unions actually provide value/incentive for people to join?

    I still pay union dues every month, although it is a lot less now that I’m retired. The reason I am still a member is because of the stuff I get in return. Things like medical, dental, vision care, long term care, all these are much cheaper through my union. Every October is open enrollment and I do a cost analysis through several outside plans, and each year I am stuck with the reality that they (my union
    ) provides me with a service that is valuable and worth my continued patronage.

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  6. Rann

    Now if the state acquiesces to a deal that puts them in a bind, who’s fault is that?

    The people that threatened to deny them essential services via strike if they didn’t acquiesce to it.

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  7. richtaylor365

    Public sector workers are forbidden to strike under Taft-Hartley, are you referring to those whinny Wisconsin teachers and what they were complaining about as “essential services”?

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  8. blameme

    The state also negotiates and their job is to give up as little as possible.

    In a perfect world this would be true. But we ALL know that the “state” thinks tax payer money is theirs to spend on votes, so they negotiate with the unions for votes, not what is best for the taxpayer’s money.

    Any other view is naive. So, to try to take this as “not the unions” fault is posing this as a one partner tango. It takes two to tango – the union leaders and their state partners.

    I assume you feel this way as you were part of a union, but honestly, you have to know truthfully that the union nor the states gives one damn about solvency. They care about buying votes.

    You cannot be a libertarian or even conservative if you truly feel that the union does not have a STRONG and EVEN culpability in this.

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  9. richtaylor365

    In a perfect world this would be true.

    In the “real” world too. Whatever concessions they give up to the unions costs them money, they look much better to their bosses (the legislature) and the voters at large (look how financially responsible we are with your tax dollars) if they can give up the least concessions possible.

    So, to try to take this as “not the unions” fault

    Technically ,it’s not “the unions” fault. Make no mistake here, I in no way condone or excuse the undue influence unions have, it is killing the finances of most states, but who gives them that influence? They don’t put a gun to anyone’s head. The stuff we are seeing in Wisconsin and Ohio and now other states following suit is a tough as nails governor who decided that it will not be business as usual with the unions, they are now playing hard ball (union rules) and pushing back, good for them. But to think that any union who says “yes’ to the deal offered to to them makes them evil or nefarious, they are paid to get the best possible deal for their members.

    I assume you feel this way as you were part of a union

    As stated in the above comment, my loyalties lie only as far as what they can do for me. They have given me way more then what I deserve and what is prudent. The deals the state of California struck with my public sector union is way over the top, I admit it and I thought they (the state) were irresponsible in agreeing to it. Those deals, if left unchecked and unmodified, will bankrupt the state, no question about it. But I don’t blame my union for being better negotiators, being better at their job then the state. The state ultimately betrayed the tax payers by agreeing to such a lavish and extravagant package.

    Will I be surprised if in the future there is emergency legislation to modify (reduce) the payout? Nope.

    You cannot be a libertarian or even conservative if you truly feel that the union does not have a STRONG and EVEN culpability in this.

    I would prefer all governors to be like Walker, and put the kabosch on all union over reaches. They need to be checked, I applaud those states that are finally coming to their senses and hope this new era of fiscal responsibility comes to my state.

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  10. blameme

    But to think that any union who says “yes’ to the deal offered to to them makes them evil or nefarious, they are paid to get the best possible deal for their members.

    This act in and of itself does not make them evil or nefarious.

    The collusion with law makers to buy votes does.

    That is my main point.

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  11. Seattle Outcast

    Now if the state acquiesces to a deal that puts them in a bind, who’s fault is that? Certainly not the union’s fault, they did their job.

    So, public worker strikes that leave garbage on the street for weeks, transportation in the garage, and kids out of school for months, backed with acts of violence (arson, murder, vandalism) to make sure that “scabs” don’t interfere are just “good negotiation”?

    You appear to be ignoring the history of unions’ day-to-day criminal behavior….

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  12. Rann

    They are forbidden to strike, and yet that seemingly does nothing to stop them from “calling in sick” in large numbers, as evidenced by what went on during the protests.

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  13. AlexInCT *

    This needs some tidying up a bit. Unions never intentionally attempt to bankrupt the state, that would be counter intuitive, like killing the milk cow, the problem is that that the state’s finances is not their concern, getting the best deal for their members, that is their concern

    Sorry Rich but I am going to disagree with you on this. The problem Walker was tackling in WI was precisely one where the union reps negotiating with the state paid to elect democrats that would then give them whatever they wanted, regardless of the future costs. This never happened when non public unions bargained with their employers, because they where smart enough to understand that if they took too much the employer would go broke. In the case of the public unions, they took too much, and then some, with the understanding that the democrats would simply raise taxes on the very people that elected them.

    The democrats clearly showed whose interests they where serving in these cases, and it was not the people that voted for them- it was the people that filled their campaign coffers. If these public unions had not abused that relationship and put WI’s finances in dire straights, I am certain that Walker would never, ever had stood a chance, and this bill wouldn’t have made it to the floor.

    They (the state negotiators) are in a much better position to know what they can afford and what would hurt them financially. Now if the state acquiesces to a deal that puts them in a bind, who’s fault is that?

    If the crooks negotiating on behalf of the state have a vested interest – their campaigns and their elections are bought & paid for by these union reps – and they give away the whole kit & caboodle when those that elected them thought they were representing their best interests, I would say that what we have is a conflict of interest big enough to invalidate the whole negotiation. They knew they couldn’t afford what they promised without massive tax hikes, and they didn’t care. After all, there was still more of their money these serfs where getting to keep.

    Since they couldn’t get these ridiculous promises, most of them unfunded, overturned, they went for the next best thing: they put in place laws that would dissolve that incestuous relationship that turned them out, and thus prevented it from happening again. Future state employees are going to pay a lot more and get a lot less because those that came before them abused the system so badly that it had to be scrapped in its entirety.

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  14. richtaylor365

    The collusion with law makers to buy votes does.

    Buying votes, how? And what I mean is how is this different from the reasons why anyone votes?

    This is a strict quid pro quo arrangement, the union gets its concessions and the state (always the Democrats, Republicans don’t bargain with the devil) gets the support of the union. Yes, the system is perverted, but aren’t most votes bought?

    Obama “bought” votes by promising people stuff, more social programs, free college, affordable healthcare, more squeezing of those greedy rich bastards so the rest of us can live better.

    The incestuous relationship between unions and governments is perverted, agreed, but change the rules, don’t rag the players for playing by the rules.

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  15. AlexInCT *

    Public sector workers are forbidden to strike under Taft-Hartley, are you referring to those whinny Wisconsin teachers and what they were complaining about as “essential services”?

    So instead they used sick days…..

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  16. AlexInCT *

    Buying votes, how? And what I mean is how is this different from the reasons why anyone votes?

    When you get to sit across the table with the people whose campaign you where by far the biggest contributor to, you aren’t just buying votes, you are buying big favors from the politicians. If this was done by a corporation, lobbyists for other entity that was conservative, or even special interest groups the left doesn’t like, you know we would be hearing calls for the DOJ to step in and for people to go to jail. When it was done by democrat politicians and union bosses, it was just labeled aggressive negotiations. It sure as hell was more like Mafia-style collusion/monopolistic activity to the tax payers being fleeced. Even the ones that where not bright enough to realize that was what was happening.

    You can not have honest negotiations when both sides at the table are not just on the same side but have a sweet pay off arangment, while the tax paying public gets fleeced coming & going.

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  17. richtaylor365

    Would you rather the city/state/fed knuckle under to such tactics and give them whatever they ask, or fire the lot of them like Reagan and hire people willing to work for that wage?

    You appear to be ignoring the history of unions’ day-to-day criminal behavior

    Yes, many of them act like criminals when they want something, and they act like that because such tactics have worked in the past. More Scott Walkers will hopefully eliminate union thuggery.

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  18. richtaylor365

    So instead they used sick days…..

    Dreadful behavior, but par for the course. I would have preferred pink slips all around.

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  19. richtaylor365

    First off, It leaves such a sour taste in my mouth to speak anything positive regarding unions, they will bankrupt my state and I will be the poorer for it. But what unions do, buy influence in government, how is this different from what other mutually held belief groups like trial lawyers, farmers, oil companies, hospitals, even corporations like GE and Exxon, don’t they also “buy” influence? They give money to candidates that will do their bidding, to make their work environment more profit friendly, it’s all quid pro quo. Unions are better at it because they are larger and can buy more influence. But as large and powerful as this influence is, Walker showed every one that they can be reined in, they can be said “No” to, and put in their place.

    I hope this spreads to all 50 (that’s 57 in Obama lingo) states.

    Future state employees are going to pay a lot more and get a lot less because those that came before them abused the system so badly that it had to be scrapped in its entirety.

    There is still much work to do, especially where I live, but what happened in Wisc. is encouraging. But more of a spotlight needs to be placed on the enablers, those in government who betrayed their fiduciary responsibilities.

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  20. richtaylor365

    Whether it’s done sitting across a table, in some smoke filled back room, over the phone, or at the back booth of a local titty bar, special interest groups greasing the palms of politicians for favors is ubiquitous, not condoning it and welcome any opportunity to clamp down on unions doing it, but it happens beyond the reach of union influence.

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  21. Hal_10000

    I have to agree somewhat with Rich here. The problem really isn’ the unions per se. They’re pursuing their interests, just like other special interests. It’s the way the Democrats bend the taxpayer over on their behalf.

    If you want to decrease the power of unions, the best way is to decrease the size of government.

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  22. blameme

    it seems to me we are talking past each other.

    You stated in the real world that the union tries to get the best deal and the state tries to get the best deal for the state.

    That is no where near what happens. Both sides are colluding to give the union more so they will vote, in lock step, for one party – so no one is actually representing the tax payers.

    Not sure why you aren’t getting this. But your “real world” scenario is not reality. We have on one side the unions and politicians. On the other side, the chair is empty. No one represents the tax payer.

    So, yes, I can rag on the participants because the unions leverage the politician’s needs for votes and the politicians leverage the union’s greed.

    So yes, in a perfect world this would not be the case. We know that the “real world” does not, in the slightest, reflect that ideal.

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  23. blameme

    Sure, it happens beyond unions, but THIS thread is about unions.

    At some point we have to focus on solving a particular problem. We can’t just say that all politics are corrupt – of course they are – but this thread is focusing on unions and using the reason that “everyone does it” does not remove the unions from this spotlight.

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  24. blameme

    But I don’t blame my union for being better negotiators, being better at their job then the state. The state ultimately betrayed the tax payers by agreeing to such a lavish and extravagant package.

    Dude, you really think they are better negotiators? They aren’t NEGOTIATING. The politicians don’t care what it costs the taxpayers, otherwise they would have never signed these deals. They cared about getting those union votes – cost be damned.

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  25. richtaylor365

    Not sure why you aren’t getting this.

    I’m not getting “this”, because reality does not fit into your one size fits all negotiation box. The other day my local paper had an article about the town’s public works union in negotiations with the city for a new contract. You got a hand full of public workers on one side of the table, and the city manager on the other, no political parties involved, each side trying to get the best deal it can.

    I’m sure you have read about the Verizon workers and their contract disputes. The workers got no satisfaction at the bargaining table so they went on strike, too bad that did not work either because they are now back to work, with no agreement, gee, all those politicians in their back pocket sure got them a sweetheart deal, right?

    Even with public sector union negotiations with municipalities, if it’s city or county level, little politics are involved, influences may still be plied but if the city manager does a crappy job and gives up too much, the city council does not ratify the deal and they go back to the bargaining table.

    You live in California, right? You remember what happened to Gray Davis, his recall election in 2003? He tried to curry favor with the public sector unions (mine included, where he gave us 3% @ 50) gave the store away, he did, and all for naught, going down in flames with the voters.

    Not all states are run by sleazy unscrupulous Democrats willing to sell out the voters to grease union influence, those unions in those states, how to they negotiate? Isn’t it pretty much the union guys asking for the world and the state guys offering peanuts, then they meet some where in the middle?

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  26. blameme

    If they met in the middle, then the states would not be going bankrupt due to the irresponsible pensions, that even you yourself said were unsustainable (your pension included).

    So if the towns were offering peanuts and truly representing the tax payers, how did we wind up where we are?

    They weren’t, that’s why.

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  27. AlexInCT *

    First off, It leaves such a sour taste in my mouth to speak anything positive regarding unions, they will bankrupt my state and I will be the poorer for it. But what unions do, buy influence in government, how is this different from what other mutually held belief groups like trial lawyers, farmers, oil companies, hospitals, even corporations like GE and Exxon, don’t they also “buy” influence?

    The reason most of thes others are trying so hard to buy favors from government usually is because of the unions doing it too. Not making excuses for them. But I do want to stress that unlike any of these other entities vying for government benefits, the unions created an unique nich, and then only with one party, so their influence could go much further than any of these other entities that have to play out both sides and thus get less from it.

    Personally I would like government’s ability to pick winners & losers to be taken away so this practice loses value for everyone. If government no longer can use its power to favor those that buy politicians elections, we all benefit.

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  28. AlexInCT *

    Especially since their actions besmirked all employees, including the ones that did the right thing, however few of them are in WI, in the eyes of the public.

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  29. Manwhore

    Even with public sector union negotiations with municipalities, if it’s city or county level, little politics are involved, influences may still be plied but if the city manager does a crappy job and gives up too much, the city council does not ratify the deal and they go back to the bargaining table.

    what happens when they hold secret meetings with politicians so the public can’t intervene?

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  30. AlexInCT *

    They cared about getting those union votes – cost be damned.

    If I make a correction, it wasn’t about getting union votes as much as it was getting massive quantities of union cash. This was a huge sticking point for many union members that where forced to pay dues only to see their leadership give it to people they really didn’t agree with. Sadly in all but a few cases massive amounts of campaign money all but means a victory at the polls. Case in point Obama’s current desperate struggle to raise over a billion dollars for the 2012 elections.

    That reminds me: where is all the talk in the LSM of the evils of campaign money in elections now that it is their self anointed messiah doing the grubbing, huh?

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  31. AlexInCT *

    In the past they scored massive benefits and the people ended up on the line for massive financial liabilities. Going forward I hope this is not the case ever again.

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  32. Seattle Outcast

    I’d fire them in a heartbeat, and then blacklist every single fucking one of them, no exceptions.

    They can just go fucking hang for all I care…

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