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  • authored by news
  • published Sat, May 18, 2002

MFD Weekend: Loman's MOU Coup or crap?

Coup-de-grace or crock-of-crap? Mysterious Memorandum surfaces at Lomans warehouse

Workers at Lomans warehouse in Langley, BC have been talking about a mysterious Memorandum of Understanding which, according to their union, has the potential to void their current collective agreement, a 10 year deal bargained in 1992, opening the door for a strike.

The warehouse services Overwaitea Food Group stores in BC and has become the center of a growing controversy. Lomans recently announced that approximately 250 workers would be laid off permanently this fall due to OFG's refusal to renew its service contract with Lomans. UFCW Local 1518, the union representing the workers has filed charges with the BC LRB alleging that OFG and Lomans are common employers. The Union has not explained why these charges were not filed in 1992 when OFG contracted its warehousing operation to Lomans and Local 1518 signed a 10 year collective agreement with Lomans.

In a letter dated May 15, 2002 Local 1518 Secretary Treasurer Ivan Limpright tells members at the warehouse about the MOU and what it means to them:

'The Union and the Employer signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 4, 1995. That Memorandum gives the Union the power to nullify the Collective Agreement at any time if certain conditions contained in the Memorandum are not met by the employer. At least two of those conditions were never met by the Employer and therefore the Union has the authority to nullify the current Collective Agreement.

If the Collective Agreement is nullified, then the employer is obligated to negotiate a new Collective Agreement. Before we can enter into negotiations, we must ratify proposals to be presented to the employer.

If the employer refuses to bargain, or does not bargain in good faith, the Union can strike the employer. In order to strike, we must first have a strike vote.'

Limpright goes on to inform members that a meeting has been called for Monday, May 20th to ask members for authorization to nullify the current collective agreement, ratify bargaining proposals to be presented to the company and to authorize a strike.

A copy of Memorandum of Understanding I dated March 7, 1995 states as follows:

This tentative Agreement is subject to the following provisions being completed on the dates as specified below:

a) Ratification of this tentative Agreement on or before March 15, 1993, to be confirmed by the Union, in writing, no later than March 19, 1993.

b) The service contract before the Overwaitea Food Group and Loman Warehousing Ltd., to be executed in writing on or before April 19, 1993; including all points in the letter to Mr. Julian B. Smith, dated March 10, 1993, and this is to be verified by the Union's independent lawyer.

c) The Company shall:

1. secure a ten (10) year lease that is to be registered at the land title office with copy provided to the Union or;

2. purchase the property and the buildings at:
19890 - 92A Avenue, Langley, BC on or before December 31, 1993. The Company shall provide a copy of the transfer of title of registration of the property as proof of ownership.

The above subjects are for the sole benefit of the Union and, if the Company is unable or unwilling to complete these subjects, then the Union shall have the sole right to terminate this tentative Agreement immediately.

The basis for Local 1518's belief that it can declare a collective agreement void is unclear. Attached to Limpright's letter to the members is a legal opinion letter from a lawyer for the UFCW. The lawyer specifically states that the opinion does not address 'the reasons why the Union will declare that the collective agreement is void' but '... will instead deal with the steps which the Union should take once it advises that the collective agreement is void.'

States Limpright in his letter, 'There are risks involved in this new action and we will outline these risks in detail at the meeting. It is absolutely critical that you attend this meeting!'

This mysterious MOU raises a lot of questions:

1. What is the 'tentative agreement' referred to in this MOU? Is it the collective agreement or is it this tentative agreement (the MOU itself)?

2. If the MOU is referring to the collective agreement, why was an MOU dealing with a collective agreement that was ratified in 1993 signed in 1995?

3. Why was the purchase or lease of the warehouse property a hot item in 1995? Why would the Union insist on such a commitment three years into a 10-year agreement and, even more intriguing, why would the company give such a commitment?

4. If the company did not live up to its end of the bargain in an MOU signed in 1995, why did the union not raise the issue until 2002?

5. If the union entered into an MOU in 1995 that gave it the power to nullify a collective agreement, why were members not informed of this? Where has this MOU been hiding all these years and why has it only surfaced now?

6. If indeed the collective agreement can be canceled as the union suggests, does that enable the employer to unilaterally roll back wages or change working conditions? What effect might this have on workers' severance pay entitlements if the company proceeds with its plans to lay off the workers in September?

7. Has the union obtained a legal opinion regarding its claim that the collective agreement can be canceled? How likely are the union's arguments to succeed? Has the legal opinion on this subject been shared with the workers?

8. What exactly is the union's strategy expected to achieve? Will it compel the employer to rescind the layoff notices it issued to the workers last month? Will it give the workers enhanced severance entitlements? Will it give them jobs at the Excel warehouse where OFG is taking its warehousing business? What?

9. Is the MOU a lucky last minute find that will give the union some leverage in its dealings with the employer or is this just a staged distraction to stem the growing militancy of the warehouse workers?

Workers at the warehouse would be well advised to attend the meeting that their union is calling for this coming Monday and get answers to these and any other questions they have. These are highly unusual circumstances and the risks should be well understood by workers before they decide to support or reject whatever course of action their union is asking them to ratify.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, May 18, 2002 8:23am

quote:


including all points in the letter to Mr. Julian B. Smith, dated March 10, 1993, and this is to be verified by the Union's independent lawyer.


Who is Julian B Smith? Why wasn't his letter attached? What are the all points in his letter? Other parts of the memorandum went unchecked for 12 yrs (or so it seems), has the all points been verified?
Anyone ever seen Mr. Smiths' letter?

  • posted by T S
  • Sat, May 18, 2002 9:34am

Who is Julian B Smith?

He is the lawyer who apparently owns Lomans ,,he is jimmy's shyster lawyer. this guy is[legal edit]!

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, May 18, 2002 9:51am

The memorandum includes Mr. Smiths' points.
What are the points in Smiths' letter and how do they impact the warehouse deal now and then?

  • posted by <Larry Loman>
  • Sat, May 18, 2002 10:14am

I could be wrong, But I thought Julian B Smith was Buddy Smith, the owner of the Crawford Group which in turn owns Lomans.
But TS is right...Buddy Smith is the one who was providing loans of 2 million dollars at a time from Lomans to other companies of his. In my opinion, he is quite a shady character.
I don't think he cares which way this goes actually, he's already raped Lomans for all he could.
I'm still throwing all my support into a Strike.
I feel its the only way we can force anything out of OWF, if there is anything to be had at all, this is our one and only chance. If it fails, we had better dust off our resumes.

What other alternatives are there for us? What would you suggest? I don't feel confident throwing all our marbles into one bag (The LRB hearings)so I really think we have to try and make this work.
I know I drove by head office at 10:00 PM last Wednesday night and every light in the building was on. Usually its dark when I leave at 6:00.
You bet they are worried.
I really don't think they saw this coming.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, May 18, 2002 10:23am

quote:


What are the points in Smiths' letter and how do they impact the warehouse deal now and then?


Does anyone know what the all points referred to in the memorandum are?

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, May 18, 2002 11:18am

quote:


2. purchase the property and the buildings at:
19890 - 92A Avenue, Langley, BC on or before December 31, 1993. The Company shall provide a copy of the transfer of title of registration of the property as proof of ownership.


What's wrong with the picture?

The two parties signed the *memorandum* in March/May of '95 requiring the company to purchase the property by Dec. of '93.

They signed the MOU in '95 the company either had already met the conditions or had no chance to meet the conditions, it was already 2 yrs later.

  • posted by <Concerned>
  • Sat, May 18, 2002 11:42am

Does anyone know what the all points referred to in the memorandum are.

Hopefully Ivan does and will enlighten us on Monday night. I hear he is chairing the meeting.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, May 18, 2002 11:54am

quote:


Does anyone know what the all points referred to in the memorandum are.

Hopefully Ivan does and will enlighten us on Monday night. I hear he is chairing the meeting.


That's the good news, you'll be able to ask to see Mr. Smiths' letter on Monday night.

I am sure Ivan will bring all documents, whether or not they believe them relevant.

None of this Sorry, we only brought what we believe to be pertinent crap will fly.

The relevancy will/can be decided by the workers.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sat, May 18, 2002 12:01pm

This just has to be a joke! If it is a joke, it's one of cruelest I've seen in a long time.

An agreement is tentative until it is ratified and signed.

I'll assume the '1995' signing date must have in fact been an error. If the Memorandum was signed in 1995, then the deal was void at that time. All the stuff was supposed to be completed and verified by the union's lawyer just after April 19, 1993. If it is not an error, what he hell was going on? If it's not an error, then the employer was in default for two years and you can't make someone comply with dates that have come and gone two years before.

I understand that Smith owns the Crawford Group, which includes Loman Warehousing Ltd. What was in the March 10, 1993 letter to Smith? Why wasn't Smith's letter attached to the MOU?

If this MOU 'I' is supposed to form part and parcel of the CA, why wasn't it attached like any others? Nowhere in the MOU does it state that it is part of the CA. I'll bet the signed CA makes no mention of a 'Memorandum Of Understanding 'I'.

A key word is 'this.' The Memorandum Of Understanding 'I' contains language referring to 'This tentative Memorandum of Agreement….'

The union's argument might hold water if the MOU had of referred to 'The' or The attached' or 'The appended' tentative Memorandum of Agreement. However, by referring to it as 'This tentative Memorandum of Agreement,' leaves the reader with the view that the 'Memorandum Of Understanding 'I' and 'This tentative Memorandum of Agreement,' are one and the same. If that is the case, it could be worthless. By the looks of it, the union didn't ratify the 'Memorandum Of Understanding ‘I'' and the union never got around to having their 'independent lawyer' verify that the employer had complied with the requirements. Besides, if a lawyer is referred to as 'its' then the lawyer is in no way independent. Such a lawyer would be acting for that Party-in this case it would be the union's lawyer.

It's obvious that the union ratified the Collective Agreement. By abiding by the terms and conditions of the Collective Agreement for over nine of its 10 years, the company would have a hard time saying that it hadn't ratified it too. I would assume that the Collective Agreement was signed by the Parties-even though the 'Memorandum Of Understanding ‘I'' was ignored.

The fact that the Union has apparently waited for over nine of the 10 years to bring the fact that the employer has not complied with the April 19, 1993 requirement is odd to say the least. The Parties have a signed CA, and 'Memorandum Of Understanding 'I' isn't attached, neither does 'Memorandum Of Understanding 'I' mention that it forms part of the CA. Smith's letter contains 'points' to be executed. What are those points? If the Union and Smith signed a CA without any protest referring to 'Memorandum Of Understanding 'I', then I'd say this is an exercise of going through the motions until loman is closed and EV is fully operational.

There will be no bargaining, there will be no legal strike. If the strike is going to be illegal, then the union should get to it now.

I would be astounded if any lawyer has given counsel to the effect that the union has any shot whatsoever at having the contract nullified.

The members should ask what a lawyer has said about the chances of success for the feeble plan that's outlined by Limpright:

quote:


At the meeting on Monday, May 20, 2002, you will be asked to vote on the following three questions:
1. Do you authorize UFCW Local 1518, under the terms of Memorandum "I" signed May 4, 1995, to nullify the existing Collective Agreement?
2. Ratify the collective bargaining proposals that will be presented to the meeting.
3. Do you authorize the Union to call a strike if the employer refuses to bargain, or, fails to bargain in good faith?


I've seen the lawyer's letter attached to Limpright's May 15th letter, and it does not give advice that there is even a snowball's chance in hell that the union has a legal right to declare the Collective Agreement void. The Collective Agreement is a 'formal instrument' whereas a memorandum is informal unless the Parties agree that it is attached to or has effect upon the formal instrument. The MOU doesn't say that the formal instrument will be terminated; it says that the informal instrument will be terminated.

As well, a key word is 'immediately' as opposed to 'eventually.' It was incumbent upon the union to terminate the informal agreement 'immediately' not seven or nine nears down the road.

The minute the union tries to serve 72 hours strike notice on Loman, a court injunction will appear and the matter will be tied up at the Labour Board until Loman's is closed and EV is up and running.

I think the questions that Limpright needs to answer at the meeting are:

1) Why was the MOU signed in 1995, but the trigger dates were two years earlier?
2) What has the union's lawyers said about the chances of pulling off a strike without getting shut down by the Labour Board?
3) What are the time lines for pulling off a strike? When will the proposals be put to the employer? How long will it take to meet? When will 72 hours notice be served? What's the soonest that the members can hit the bricks?
4) What is the legal opinion on being allowed to picket EV?
5) What is the legal opinion on being allowed to picket OFG?
6) Why didn't the union act on the MOU in 1995?
7) Why did the union not notify the members about the MOU?
8) What 'points' does Smith's letter contain?
9) What activities are being planned by the UFCW and CLC delegates during the two upcoming June conventions to support the employees?
10) What other activities is the union going arrange to put pressure on OFG?
11) Is the BC Fed and CLC affiliates being asked for help, and if yes, what help are they going to provide?
12) What is Local 247 prepared to do to help?
13) Is there a union at EV Logistics? If yes, who are they? If no, is EV going to be organized?
14) Why has the union not made the loman closure a media issue? Is the union afraid that if they are unsuccessful that they will look weak? Are they ashamed and embarrassed about news getting out that they signed a 10-year contract?

The Loman employees deserve the full and public support of their union. They don't deserve to have the matter dealt with slowly and quietly behind the closed doors of the LRB.

The UFCW has to come out swinging, not only for the sakes of the Loman members, but for the sakes of the retail group whose contracts are up for grabs in a few months. The UFCW should organize a large demonstration in front of Jimmy Pattison's offices. They should be leafleting every one of the OFG stores. They should be buying ad space in small weekly newspapers. They should march everyone of their delegates at the Canadian Region Conference to the steps of the Art Gallery for a public demonstration against corporate greed. They should have the CLC endorse a policy that an injury to one is an injury to all, therefore, all unions should supply personnel to instigate and carry out activities supportive of any group of workers needing assistance. Loman employees would be such a group.

The activities of worker delegates during the weeks of June 3 through June 14th will be a big indicator as to what level of support the Loman employees can expect from the UFCW.

I hope the UFCW isn't going to put a bunch of options to the Loman employees and once they pick an option, it's deemed to be "their choice" and if it blows up, the debris falls on their heads.

The union has to lead and be seen to lead. They must strongly recommend options. They can't pull off the "so sad, too bad, but it was your choice" routine. They must lead and have a plan devised to protect the Loman guys no matter how the option turns out.

The UFCW has to start acting like a strong union and Brooke and Ivan have to act like strong leaders. If the thing blows up, it must land on Brooke and Ivan's heads. They don't get paid well over $100 grand apiece to hide behind workers in peril; they get paid to stand out front and take the full force of the employer's attack.

  • posted by <Larry Loman>
  • Sat, May 18, 2002 2:53pm

Thanks for the info Weiser. It certainly does raise a few questions

I'm going to print your list of Questions right now and make sure each and everyone of them is put to Ivan. I will try and post his answers on Monday night or Tuesday morning.

I'll also bring your list of suggestions to his attention and find out what else they plan to do.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sun, May 19, 2002 9:03am

Mr. sec-tres: oh look what I found in my desk, papers that might save 250 jobs.

Mr. pres: good boy, why are there mustard stains on 'em? You holding out on me?

Mr. sec-treas: No no, Mr. president read the words, read the words. I do believe this will help.

Mr. pres: Oh ya the words, why this is a miracle, well why didn't you mention this before?

Mr. sec-tres: I .. I .. just forgot we had 'em

If the MOU that's suddenly surfacedis in fact the bomb they say it is, then why wasn't it presented in the ufcw LRB argument as well? Why was it kept under wraps?

  • posted by <Larry Loman>
  • Sun, May 19, 2002 9:17am

Hopefully that isin't the way it went about heh heh..

I've printed both sets of questions that were posted here and faxed them to work to be posted on the bulletin board so that people will be aware. I plan to ask each and everyone of them.If Ivan doesent have the answers there, he's going to have to get them before I make any decisions, which hopefully won't be too long so as not to affect the strike vote if it can in fact go ahead.

As Artie Johnson used to say on Laugh-in. This meeting should be "Veeerrrrrry Interesting"

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Sun, May 19, 2002 9:28am

Larry, I hope that you understand that we have your best interests and those of your co-workers in mind when we pose all these questions. There is so much about this MOU that is perplexing (to put it mildly).

For a union and a company to agree that the union has the unilateral right to terminate a collective agreement at some point during its term is highly unusual. I've never heard of such a thing and could not fathom why a company would agree to something like this. Some of us are also skeptical that such an agreement would hold up at the LRB.

Given the highly unusual nature of this agreement, for the union to then forget all about it is really unbelievable. When Ivan says, "Oh gosh, look what I found under a stack of old files. Wonder if it might help those guys at Lomans?", my radar starts beeping - wildly.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, May 19, 2002 9:46am

A memorandum of agreement and a collective agreement are not always one and the same. The memorandum is an interim document until the collective agreement is signed. That being said, I would assume the CA was signed sealed and delivered by the time the MOU was signed. It looks like it was drafted and it took two years to sign.

There might be a long-shot argument that because the CA was signed, sealed and delivered, the terms MOA and CA are used interchangeably.

What's troubling is the seven years gap between the signing and the action the union plans to take. The word "immediately" is an important one.

Who exactly knew about the deal that was supposed to be signed? I'm with Remote, my radar is beeping.

Oh, and BTW, the 1518 guys visit here often, so don't put uo with any, "gee, I don't know the answer, I'll have to get back to you on that one."

If they won't answer, make them take notes of what it is they should answer, and insist that they give you the complete answer in writing. Don't let them tell you it has to be verbal so the employer doesn't get ahold of the union's position. They can't play "surprise, surprise" at the hearings. They have to put all documents on which they will be relying on the table prior to the hearing. They either have a case or they don't.

And don't fall for the line that only paid reps can be trusted to keep things confidential. It's your jobs, so if anyone will keep things confidential, it will be you guys. You'd be surprised at how much the employers learn from the business reps.

  • posted by <Larry Loman>
  • Sun, May 19, 2002 12:59pm

Thanks for the advice guys. I do feel I'm going to the meeting tommorow night armed with a little more than blind faith. I've compiled the 2 list's of questions into one to avoid repetition..
Mabey you can have a look at it and let me know if there is anything I've missed.

I'll try and post them here, but if I can't figure that out I will email them to you in MS word format.

Thanks again.

  • posted by <Larry Loman>
  • Mon, May 20, 2002 1:01am

I looked up Ivan's number in the phone book today and called him at home.To his credit he agreed to hear all my questions and try to answer them.I didn't understand all the answers and some of them are my own interpetations of the answers he gave me, but I think these are pretty close to what he was telling me.

1. What is the "tentative agreement" referred to in this MOU? Is it the collective agreement or is it this tentative agreement (the MOU itself)?

The MOU Itself.

2. If the MOU is referring to the collective agreement, why was an MOU dealing with a collective agreement that was ratified in 1993 signed in 1995?

It was ratified in'93 soon after Lomans took over to get us working under a new contract,however there were still some isues we had agreed to negotiate like new start rates, 10 hour shifts, production ect. The contract was ratified but in obeyance untill the other details were hammered out. This was aparently finished in '95 and the contract was signed then.Aparently Lomans knew of the MOU, didn't want to sign, but for some reason, did anyway.

3. Why was the purchase or lease of the warehouse property a hot item in 1995? Why would the Union insist on such a commitment three years into a 10-year agreement and, even more intriguing, why would the company give such a commitment?

So the union had a way out if OWF started shipping from another loaction like they are now.

4. If the company did not live up to its end of the bargain in an MOU signed in 1995, why did the union not raise the issue until 2002?

No need to raise it in 95. We were working and had a contract. Ivan figures he would have never got the support of the members then to nulify it with 7 years left on it. It wasn't untill we got our lay-off notices that he figured we'd try it I guess.

5. If the union entered into an MOU in 1995 that gave it the power to nullify a collective agreement, why were members not informed of this? Where has this MOU been hiding all these years and why has it only surfaced now?

He said it was always there, and we were informed of it in '95. He was asked in 95 why he didn't envoke it then. He said because we were working, why risk it. (I do kind of remeber that)

6. If indeed the collective agreement can be canceled as the union suggests, does that enable the employer to unilaterally roll back wages or change working conditions? What effect might this have on workers' severance pay entitlements if the company proceeds with its plans to lay off the workers in September?

Didn't ask this question directly. But he said we were going with the current contract in negotiations (if there are any)not the old one.

7. Has the union obtained a legal opinion regarding its claim that the collective agreement can be canceled? How likely are the union's arguments to succeed? Has the legal opinion on this subject been shared with the workers?

He said he has had many conversations with Shona Moore, our lawyer and she says it will fly. But I don't beleive he has that in writing. I asked for it. Do we need it?

8. What exactly is the union's strategy expected to achieve? Will it compel the employer to rescind the layoff notices it issued to the workers last month? Will it give the workers enhanced severance entitlements? Will it give them jobs at the Excel warehouse where OFG is taking its warehousing business? What?

Continued Employment. He has 6 proposals...money, job security,back working for OWF, can't remeber the others.

9. Is the MOU a lucky last minute find that will give the union some leverage in its dealings with the employer or is this just a staged distraction to stem the growing militancy of the warehouse workers?

Short answer....NO.It's not a last minute find, they've know about it, and hopefully, it's not a staged distraction.

Thats the first list. I also asked him the second set of questions. I'll post those in a bit.

  • posted by <LL>
  • Mon, May 20, 2002 1:20am

1) What are the time lines for pulling off a strike? When will the proposals be put to the employer? How long will it take to meet? When will 72 hours notice be served? What's the soonest that the members can hit the bricks?

May 27, which is a Monday, he said he would proably rather wait until Friday June 1 because fridays are better?

2) What is the legal opinion on being allowed to picket EV?

We will picket there, using the allied emplyer argument. They may get an injunction, we'll have to fight it.

3) What is the legal opinion on being allowed to picket OFG?

he said "No plans to Picket OWF."

4) What "points" does Smith's letter contain?

Ivan said "Just a few things he had to do, and he did them" He doesent have a copy of the letter, it's in the lawyers office.

5) What activities are being planned by the UFCW and CLC delegates during the two upcoming June conventions to support the employees?

He said he expects it to be done before then. If we are still out, he said he'll be worried and it will be made an issue with CLC.

6) What other activities is the union going arrange to put pressure on OFG?

Leafleting...more and more...stronger language in the leaflets. That sounds like about it though.

7) Is the BC Fed and CLC affiliates being asked for help, and if yes, what help are they going to provide?

I asked about the BC FED declaring shipments fromother warehousses "HOT". He said thats really hard to do and proabaly won't happen.

8) Is there a union at EV Logistics? If yes, who are they? If no, is EV going to be organized?

Yes...Retail, something and Longshoremen I think. He last talked to them about a year ago warning them of our "Common Employer" Case.

9) Why has the union not made the loman closure a media issue? Is the union afraid that if they are unsuccessful that they will look weak? Are they ashamed and embarrassed about news getting out that they signed a 10-year contract?

He said "The media are not our friends." We want to portray ourselves as "good guys" who just keep doing our jobs...OWF is the enemy who want to throw us poor folks out of work.They are going to be putting stuff on their Web Page which he says the media troll regularly for stories.

Those are the answers I got directly from the horses mouth, candid and unscripted.
What do you guys think?

  • posted by sleK
  • Mon, May 20, 2002 2:31am

quote:


Leafleting...more and more...stronger language in the leaflets. That sounds like about it though.


That's not enough. Unless of course I underestimate "teh power of the leaflet".

Limpright gets a big for that.

quote:


I asked about the BC FED declaring shipments fromother warehousses "HOT". He said thats really hard to do and proabaly won't happen.


Does that mean they're not pursuing the declaration? Or are they pursuing it and not likely to get it?

If they have chosen *not* to pursue that course of action, what we're their reasons? "Hard to do" doesn't cut the mustard.

Here's another question for him:

Why is this issue not featured in the "Hot Topics" section on the front page of the 1518 website beside "Win a trip to Hawaii" or "Local 1518 Flag-Signing Raises Funds For Thunder Bay Strikers" or "Anti-Liberal Protests Rock BC UFCW Members Prominent Among Campaign BC Demonstrators"?

Not "hot" enough?

That site is worse than a farking infomercial.

edit: removed comments that had already been addressed. Sometimes I can't see for looking.

  • posted by siggy
  • Mon, May 20, 2002 10:08am

quote:


3. Why was the purchase or lease of the warehouse property a hot item in 1995? Why would the Union insist on such a commitment three years into a 10-year agreement and, even more intriguing, why would the company give such a commitment?

So the union had a way out if OWF started shipping from another loaction like they are now.


Still doesn't tell us why the company would've given such a commitment. Surely the company understood the long range implications.

quote:


4) What 'points' does Smith's letter contain?

Ivan said "Just a few things he had to do, and he did them" He doesent have a copy of the letter, it's in the lawyers office


The question was: What are the points not where is the letter.

What things Ivan, what are the points in the Smith *all points* letter?

  • posted by siggy
  • Mon, May 20, 2002 10:27am

Forgive me for going on 'n on about the *all points*, but it's sticking in my craw for whatever reason. Some things don't add up.

Limpright implies that the Smith letter was a list of things Smith had to do before everything was signed neat and tidy and Smith did them.

Why would the company make a list of things to please the union?
Wouldn't it make more sense that the Smith *all points* letter was a list of things the company expected the machine to do/agree before everything was all signed up nice and neat?

The union list is the MOU. The company list is the *all point* letter which the company would insist be included in the MOU.

And for whatever reason the *all points* is not attached to anything, has never been seen by the members and has only been eluded to by the machine. WHY?
Make any sense?

  • posted by weiser
  • Mon, May 20, 2002 11:13am

1. What is the 'tentative agreement' referred to in this MOU? Is it the collective agreement or is it this tentative agreement (the MOU itself)?

The MOU Itself.

If it's the MOU itself, how the heck can the CA be cancelled?

2. If the MOU is referring to the collective agreement, why was an MOU dealing with a collective agreement that was ratified in 1993 signed in 1995?

It was ratified in '93 soon after Lomans took over to get us working under a new contract, however there were still some issues we had agreed to negotiate like new start rates, 10 hour shifts, production etc. The contract was ratified but in abeyance until the other details were hammered out. This was apparently finished in '95 and the contract was signed then. Apparently Lomans knew of the MOU, didn't want to sign, but for some reason, did anyway.

Why the heck would any union ratify a CA if there were still important issues unresolved? Could they not have just taken a strike vote and forced the issue? Now are we to believe that Loman took over a distribution operation but was unable to operate without wage concessions on the bottom end? Loman officials didn't want to sign the deal, but did anyway? Something is real fishy here.

3. Why was the purchase or lease of the warehouse property a hot item in 1995? Why would the Union insist on such a commitment three years into a 10-year agreement and, even more intriguing, why would the company give such a commitment?

So the union had a way out if OWF started shipping from another location like they are now.

That makes no sense whatsoever. The UFCW insisted on that commitment in 1993, not 1995. It took two years for Loman to sign. Why were the dates for execution not changed from 1993 to 1995? By signing in 1995 the Parties immediately put themselves in default of the 1993 compliance dates. Therefore, the Union was obliged to take 'immediate' action. If the MOU gave the Union a way out of OFG started shipping form elsewhere, why did the union wait until now to pull the MOU? Why did the Loman members have to threaten the union before the MOU was dusted off?

4. If the company did not live up to its end of the bargain in an MOU signed in 1995, why did the union not raise the issue until 2002?

No need to raise it in 95. We were working and had a contract. Ivan figures he would have never got the support of the members then to nullify it with 7 years left on it. It wasn't until we got our lay-off notices that he figured we'd try it I guess.

What a pompous, but typical UFCW response. The machine heads do the thinking for the Power Source up to and including reading their thoughts. 'He would have never got the support'? Did the guy ever ask what the Power Source thinks. 'We were working and had a contract,' is a big issue. There was a contract not a MOA.

5. If the union entered into an MOU in 1995 that gave it the power to nullify a collective agreement, why were members not informed of this? Where has this MOU been hiding all these years and why has it only surfaced now?

He said it was always there, and we were informed of it in '95. He was asked in 95 why he didn't evoke it then. He said because we were working, why risk it. (I do kind of remember that)

'Why risk it?' Because what is happening today was a possibility in '93. If the union didn't think it was possible, they wouldn't have asked for the MOU conditions. They predicted what would happen, but they didn't have the leadership ability to convince the members it was important. They didn't have the balls to nail down the CA before they signed it. This stuff could have been a condition set out while bargaining the CA. Why was it left to a weakly worded side letter?

6. If indeed the collective agreement can be canceled as the union suggests, does that enable the employer to unilaterally roll back wages or change working conditions? What effect might this have on workers' severance pay entitlements if the company proceeds with its plans to lay off the workers in September?

Didn't ask this question directly. But he said we were going with the current contract in negotiations (if there are any) not the old one.

If the union really could cancel the CA, the contract dies and so does all its provisions. However, the distribution center and all its contents would be held hostage. That's worth something to resolve. Loman management would have to empty the warehouse themselves and haul the product (owned by OFG) to Alberta so it would be out of BC's jurisdiction. If OFG shipped in from Alberta directly to the stores, the UFCW might have some leverage in picketing the stores, but we all know the UFCW doesn't have the stomach for that type of confrontation. If they shipped back to EV from Alberta, who would know? If you did know, the UFCW could picket EV, which rumor has it is represented by the RWDSU group that's affiliated with the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen Union.

7. Has the union obtained a legal opinion regarding its claim that the collective agreement can be canceled? How likely are the union's arguments to succeed? Has the legal opinion on this subject been shared with the workers?

He said he has had many conversations with Shona Moore, our lawyer and she says it will fly. But I don't believe he has that in writing. I asked for it. Do we need it?

The whole deal may attract flies! If it would fly why the heck didn't Shona say so in her letter telling the 'experts' how to run their union? You don't need a lawyer to give the type of advice that Shona put in her letter. That's what the $140,000 Boys Club is supposed to paid the big bucks for. Lawyers get paid to tell the union brain bank whether they can legally cancel the CA. Any lawyer can say, 'We'll give it a shot,' but are they just generating income for themselves at the request of the union for political reasons, sailing into uncharted courses, or do they have rock-solid jurisprudence to back up their advice? Get it in writing. It shouldn't take Shona more than 15 minutes to say yes or no and cite some case references to back up her claim

8. What exactly is the union's strategy expected to achieve? Will it compel the employer to rescind the layoff notices it issued to the workers last month? Will it give the workers enhanced severance entitlements? Will it give them jobs at the Excel warehouse where OFG is taking its warehousing business? What?

Continued Employment. He has 6 proposals...money, job security, back working for OWF, can't remember the others.

OFG holds the cards on this one. What is the strategy to make OFG cough up? Loman is on the way to the glue factory. OFG has its money tied up in a new stallion.

9. Is the MOU a lucky last minute find that will give the union some leverage in its dealings with the employer or is this just a staged distraction to stem the growing militancy of the warehouse workers?

Short answer....NO. It's not a last minute find, they've know about it, and hopefully, it's not a staged distraction.

Then why didn't the union cancel the CA the minute they got wind of the EV/OFG plan to shift distribution? Why weren't the Loman members told about the 'silver bullet' when the impending job loss was announced? Was Ivan doing the thinking for the members again?

1) What are the time lines for pulling off a strike? When will the proposals be put to the employer? How long will it take to meet? When will 72 hours notice be served? What's the soonest that the members can hit the bricks?

May 27, which is a Monday, he said he would probably rather wait until Friday June 1 because Fridays are better?

Tell me again why Ivan gets paid the big bucks? Let's look at this time line:

The Loman members ratify the proposals on the 20th. Send them to the company(ies) on the 21st, company says, on the 22nd, no need to meet because there is a signed CA. Union asks to meet about drop dead on the 23rd. Company applies to LRB on the 24th claiming that arbitration is way to go. LRB sets hearing for June or July 12th, 13th and 14th. LRB says it will get back with decision in two weeks. LRB says either... 1) UFCW entitled to cancel contract. 2) UFCW not entitled to cancel contract. 3) UFCW and Loman must arbitrate matter. If #2, case closed. If #1, company must meet with UFCW and sets meeting 21 days down the road. On 20th day, company cancels due to unanticipated illness of key bargainer. Sets next date for 30 days later. Meets with union and asks questions about union proposals. Says they may or may not be doable, but company will have to cost them and will get back in 21 days. Union says it is going to strike. Company lays bad-faith bargaining against the union because it seems like it has no intention of bargaining only striking. They say, "Heck, we might be able to do these things, but you have no intention of hearing us, the purpose of these sessions is not to bargain, but to allow you to punish the employer." If #3, Parties must arrange for arbitration. Date set for February 14, 2003. Decision rendered April 1, 2003.


2) What is the legal opinion on being allowed to picket EV?

We will picket there, using the allied employer argument. They may get an injunction, we'll have to fight it.

Allied to whom? To Loman? Not a chance. To OFG? Maybe. Is OFG on the list of places to picket? You can't picket an ally without picketing the primary employer. To picket an ally, you must be on strike. Will OFG be on strike? If RWDSU represents EV employees, then the UFCW will have to get BC Fed approval to picket. Will the BC Fed give permission to picket?

3) What is the legal opinion on being allowed to picket OFG?

he said "No plans to Picket OWF."

And why would that be? Isn't OFG the real getaway driver? The OFG crew must be laughing themselves silly.

4) What 'points' does Smith's letter contain?

Ivan said "Just a few things he had to do, and he did them" He doesn't have a copy of the letter, it's in the lawyers office.

Excuse me!? As if the only copy of the letter is in a lawyers office. Give me a break! Even if that were the case, tell the friggin lawyer to fax it on over. What Ivan seems to be saying is that most of the stuff referred to in the MOU have been complied with. Oh, I'm sure a judge will come down real hard on Loman for informally complying with the MOU but just not formally. I think Ivan should go stand in a corner, so that he can think about what he's just said.

5) What activities are being planned by the UFCW and CLC delegates during the two upcoming June conventions to support the employees?

He said he expects it to be done before then. If we are still out, he said he'll be worried and it will be made an issue with CLC.

What a crock! Ivan's going to take the group out on the 1st and it will all be tidied up by Monday morning when the UFCW delegates meet. What a man! Read the above timeline. It will not be tidied up by the time the UFCW delegates hit town, and it won't be tidied up by the time they leave at the end of the week, nor will it be tidied up by the time the next batch arrives for the CLC convention, nor will it be tidied up by the time those delegates leave either. The BCGEU/HEU will take center stage at the CLC convention-not the UFCW with their self-inflicted Loman problem. You need to tell Ivan these sorts of things get planned now for exection at the events. If the deal is settled then there's no need to execute. If it's not settled and there is no plan then there will be no action. I think it's a cop out. There ain't going to be no activity at either venue unless the Loman members make it an issue by leafleting delegates at both conventions. And don't let Ivan buy you off with the promise of five minutes at a microphone at the UFCW convention. You shouldn't have to go begging for support, they should come running with support. The convention is a gathering of the mightiest of the UFCW Canada's brain bank. They'll yap about Thunder Bay, they can help you too. You are just as important as Thunder Bay.

6) What other activities is the union going arrange to put pressure on OFG?

Leafleting...more and more...stronger language in the leaflets. That sounds like about it though.

What a crock. These guys cost close to a quarter million dollars a year to keep in clothes, cars, travel, pay and benefits and the best they can come up with is a cheap photocopy of a poorly written piece of crap that begs consumers to plead the union's case with the employer. The action plan has to be to hurt the employer where it counts.

7) Is the BC Fed and CLC affiliates being asked for help, and if yes, what help are they going to provide?

I asked about the BC FED declaring shipments from other warehouses "HOT". He said that's really hard to do and probably won't happen.

Solidarity Forever.

8) Is there a union at EV Logistics? If yes, who are they? If no, is EV going to be organized?

Yes...Retail, something and Longshoremen I think. He last talked to them about a year ago warning them of our "Common Employer" Case.

Gee Ivan is a real pro at intelligence gathering. A year ago! What the f….?

9) Why has the union not made the Loman closure a media issue? Is the union afraid that if they are unsuccessful that they will look weak? Are they ashamed and embarrassed about news getting out that they signed a 10-year contract?

He said "The media are not our friends." We want to portray ourselves as "good guys" who just keep doing our jobs...OWF is the enemy who want to throw us poor folks out of work. They are going to be putting stuff on their Web Page, which he says the media troll regularly for stories.

I think the UFCW has hung around one to many slaughter houses. Just keep doing your jobs until….WHAM! Now tell me how much they pay good old Tom Fawkes? Is that his media relations plan? Just put shit up on the WEB Page and the media will swim by and gobble it up…….

15 minutes later:

Sorry for the delay, I laughed so hard, that I threw up. The guys send out media releases. The media doesn't troll the Internet for stories. Some reporters may check the Internet for background, but they aren't so desperate for news that they would visit a union propaganda site. Like I said and others have said, our radar is going off. There's a lot of fog and the UFCW isn't doing much to clear it, and they don't seem to be doing much to steer you off the rocks.

I believe Ivan's answers give all members a good idea of how the machine thinks and why it acts as it does. The Loman predicament reaches much further than Loman members. This union is directed by a thought pattern. That thought pattern seems to permeate so much of what we see happening right across Canada.

  • posted by <LL>
  • Mon, May 20, 2002 2:47pm

Excellent points. I'll be sure to raise each one.

Thanks again for the advice and I'll let you know how it goes.

  • posted by <Larry Loman>
  • Mon, May 20, 2002 10:07pm

Well....Question period was cut short at the meeting. Right in the middle of a question actually. About 10 minutes of questions then someone (Looked like a plant to me)asked that we end questions and move to a vote. It was seconded and that was that. No more questions.
Vote now.
Unanimous to end Contract
Unanimous to Strike.

Thats good...At least we are all in agreement.
I hope it will fly.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 8:09am

This link will take you to the BC Labour Code, the law that governs collective bargaining and collective agreements in BC. Those provisions begin at Section 47. Note the requirement at Section 49(3) If an agreement is reached as the result of collective bargaining, both parties must execute it.

I am not that familiar with BC case law on this point but let me pose this question:

If an agreement has been negotiated, put to the members for ratification and implemented (meaning that the terms and conditions that have been negotiated for wages, benefits, etc. have been put in place), has "an agreement been reached as a result of collective bargaining"?

Does 49(3), then require the parties to execute (sign) the agreement?

If an agreement is executed, where do disputes that arise in relation to that agreement go? (Arbitration? LRB? where?)

Sorry folks, I would really like to know that unions can terminate an agreement and strike the employer. It would certainly give workers a lot more leverage in many situations but I still don't see where the legal authority that would enable them to do this comes from.

I am assuming that if the union serves the employer with notice to bargain while the contract is still in effect, proceedings before the LRB will surely follow before any further steps are taken. Maybe in the course of those proceedings, which will be public, we can get a better understanding of what was behind this MOU.

  • posted by weiser
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 9:02am

How was the so-called strike vote conducted? The Labour Code Regulations are quite specific about how a vote is to be conducted.

In part, it reads:

quote:


Division 2 - Strike and Lockout Vote
Application
12. This Division applies to matters under sections 60 and 61 of the Code.
[am. B.C. Reg. 59/93.]
Appointment and duties of returning officer

13. (1) A bargaining agent for which a vote is being held must appoint a returning officer to act under subsection (2) for the purposes of the vote and set the date, times and places for voting and provide eligible persons with not less than 48 hours notice of where to vote.

(2) Subject to the Code and this regulation, the returning officer must

(a) set the form of ballot and ensure that it poses the following question, as applicable, in these words:
Are you in favour of a strike: yes no
Are you in favour of a lockout: yes no

(b) act as scrutineer and if necessary appoint additional scrutineers to be present while ballots are cast and counted,

(c) prepare a voters list and keep a record of the persons to whom ballots are issued,

(d) fix the number and location of polling places,

(e) resolve questions concerning eligibility of voters,

(f) ensure that the vote is conducted by secret ballot and that there is compliance with Schedule 1, and

(g) when the vote is completed,

(i) prepare and sign a return of poll in the form set out in Schedule 2, and
(ii) provide a copy of it to the bargaining agent.

Vote complete
14. For the purpose of sections 60 and 61 of the Code, a vote shall be deemed to have been taken when the bargaining agent receives the copy of the return of poll from the returning officer.

Copy of return to be sent to board

15. When the bargaining agent receives a return of poll from the returning of officer, it must promptly send a copy of the return of poll to the associate chair of the Mediation Division.

Names and addresses of employees
16. An employer must give the returning officer the names and addresses of all its employees in the bargaining unit immediately after receiving a written request for this information from the returning officer.

Preservation of ballots
16. The bargaining agent must preserve all documents relating to a vote for not less than 3 months from the last day of the vote.


  • posted by Legal_Beagle
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 11:02am

If the strike vote doesn't comply with the "Regulations" then it is worthless. Strike votes have to be conducted formally and by the book. How was the strike vote conducted? Who was the Returning Officer and how was he/she selected? What sort of ballots were used? When will the Labour Relations Board be officially notified of the vote results?

If the strike vote wasn't conducted in accordance with the "Regulations," what would be the purpose of such a vote? Would it be just to rattle an employer or to quite down agitators?

As for the Memorandum of Understanding, I'd remind everyone that a memorandum is not automatically accorded the binding effect of a collective agreement. I think Shona's partner Theo Arsenault, dealt with this sort of matter in 1999 in a LRB case between Teamsters Local 31 and the Abbotsford School District.

A signed collective agreement supercedes a memorandum unless the Parties specifically agree in writing that the memorandum is incorporated into and forms part of the collective agreement. As well, the BC Labour Code governs certain aspects of a collective agreement. The Code also sets out a method of settling disputes arising out of an interpretation of a collective agreement.

In a LRB case called, Rocky Point Day Care and BCGEU, the Board said:

quote:


…When a memorandum of agreement with detailed attachments is signed, and to all appearances, ratified, a presumption arises that a collective agreement is in full force and effect. To rebut that presumption, a powerfully persuasive case to the contrary must be presented: Pacific Vocational Institute, B.C.L.R.B. No. 10/80, [1980] 2 C.L.R.B.R. 17. Here, there were no contrary arguments. Under s. 139(c), 139(f), and 139(g) of the Code, a collective agreement was reached and was in effect.


If that holds true in this case, the MOU states that the union has the sole right to terminate 'this tentative agreement.' Well, I'd say if the deal was ratified and inked, the Parties have a collective agreement, not a tentative agreement. If that is so, there is no tentative agreement to terminate-unless of course there is some other agreement gathering dust in some file cabinet.

  • posted by <Concerned>
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 11:47am

Can anybody tell me what happens to banked time like holidays and stats and ATO during a strike?

Can I cash it out during a strike? Before a strike? Will I get it at the end of the strike?
Is there a chance I will loose it if Lomans shuts down Sept 28?

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 11:56am

We have to keep in mind also that the entire purpose of the statutory scheme (the system of laws) that govern labour relations in Canada is to minimize disruption to the economy by maintaining order in the workplace. Translation: keep strikes and lockouts to a minimum. This is why strikes and lockouts are prohibited during the time that a collective agreement is in place and why disputes about collective agreement provisions must be taken up through arbitration. (We may not agree that this is a good thing for workers - I personally think they had a lot more power back in the days when it was legal to walk off the job when the boss violated a collective agreement - but this is the state of the law here in Canada.)

The collective agreement is essential to maintaining order and avoiding disruption. Once it's a done deal, it's a done deal. Here in Ontario, for instance, an employer and a union can't even agree to terminate their collective agreement early (so that they can negotiate a new one) without permission of the OLRB. There is probably something similar in the BC legislation. This is also the reason that decertification or changing unions is only permitted during a very narrow window at the end of collective agreement. The whole bargaining process and the collective agreement are sacred - to maintaining order - and can't be messed around with.

Maybe the UFCW and its lawyers can pull a legal rabbit out of a hat or file drawer or whatever, but I would be surprised if the LRB gives them the time of day on this. To allow for side deals that permit one party or the other to cancel a collective agreement in mid stream, would be to open the door to the kind of disruption that the statutory scheme is supposed to minimize.

Where is all this going? Let's face it, assuming that the union serves the company with notice to bargain, what's going to happen?

The employer is going to say, "We don't have to bargain with you, we have a collective agreement in place and it hasn't expired yet. Come back and see us when it's time to bargain a renewal agreement."

The union will then say, "Oh, you're not bargaining with us, we're going on strike."

The employer will say, "Like f*** you are. We're going to the LRB to get an injunction."

The wheels at the LRB will turn at their usual pace. If the employer gets the injuntion (my bet is that it will), there goes the whole strategy. No bargaining, no strike. If the union succeeds in getting a decision out of the LRB that allows it to cancel the agreement, it will then have to bargain. This will take a while. Do employers know how to drag out negotiations? Sure they do. It can take weeks to get meeting dates set, exchange proposals, talk about this, mull over that, counter propose some stuff, dance around the fence....

So by the time a legal strike date is reached, we should be at what date?

  • posted by <Larry Loman>
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 12:10pm

Well...I've always supported my union and brothers and will continue to do so.

Ivan told us the lawyer says the strike will fly.

I say..OK, Show me.
I will support it fully.

Like everyone else says, What else can we do?
We're outta there in a couple months anyway.

  • posted by Troll
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 1:49pm

Perhaps it will, if a proper strike vote was taken. How was the strike vote conducted?

If it wasn't a proper strike vote, that sure would be a monumental waste people's time?

  • posted by weiser
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 4:08pm

LL said:

quote:


Like everyone else says, What else can we do?

We're outta there in a couple months anyway.


Larry, you first question is impossible for you to answer if you don't have all the answers and all the information. There might be a lot more you could do, or there may be nothing.

Y'know, Larry, what concerns me is the way you guys are being informed.

On one hand, let's say the strike vote was conducted as per the Labour Code Regulations.

Taking a strike vote and going on strike always have pros and cons. For example, holding a building, property and contents hostage is a pro. Wiping out the terms and conditions of the CA, except H&W benefits, is a con.

To make such an important decision, especially when the employer could declare bankruptcy or close while you are on strike, you need a ton of information and a lot of discussion.

When you consider that a decision as important as this one wasn't even properly debated, you have to wonder what the heck is up with the union. Sure people have the right to put motions on the floor, but a good union leader would have fought any closure until he or she was sure people had more than enough information with which to make the important decision. To allow union members to make a decision without full disclosure is outrageous.

The union should have smothered you with so much information that you wouldn't have had a question to ask because they were all answered already. The union knew the questions that were to be asked so the rep should have proactively covered the issues before the questions were asked. Why didn't that happen?

Throughout this whole process the union has been reactive. They have not been proactive. The guys in the warehouse have had to push and threaten and cajole to get the union to support them. Why is that?

On the other hand, let's say the strike vote was not in compliance with the Regs. If that were so, why on earth would a union hold a strike vote that could never be exercised? Why would anyone want to fool people into thinking that they could strike when they couldn't?

Can anyone tell me whether the strike vote was conducted according to the Regs.?

  • posted by <Concerned>
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 5:19pm

www.ufcw1518.com

Guess the machine is starting to roll?

  • posted by weiser
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 6:17pm

And the truth comes out:

quote:


"We will be requesting the employer's attendance at bargaining this week," continued Limpright. "If the employer doesn't bargain, or we don't reach an agreement within a reasonable period, then we will schedule another meeting to hold an official strike vote. Once that official strike vote is taken, we will serve notice on the employer and strike action will commence after the minimum 72 hours notice required by law has been given."


What the hell is an unofficial strike vote?

Radar is goin' off again.

If it wasn't for the MFD site, people might still think that the strike vote was for real.

Did Ivan tell everyone it was just a "practice" strike vote?

  • posted by <Don Peterson>
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 6:43pm

We were told at the begining of the meeting this vote wasn't the official vote.
This was the one to attempt to start bargening.
If thats not started by the weekend, we'll take the official one and walk 72 hours later.

Providing Lomans doesnt get an injunction I suppose.

  • posted by weiser
  • Tue, May 21, 2002 7:25pm

I don't see how a practice strike vote does anything. However, I give the guys in the warehouse full marks for making their union take notice that they demand respect from both employer and union.

No matter what happens, by cracking the whip, you guys are making your union work for you. Make 'em work hard--real hard.

What are the delegates at the UFCW convention going to do to show solidarity with the Loman members. There should be a few hundred people on fat per diems that can spend some time leafletting OFG stores. There will be close to 1,000 CLC delegates who might like to help too.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Wed, May 22, 2002 4:35am

How about getting Mike Fraser and some of the other high-ranking honchos to pay a visit to the warehouse? That would be a very visible show of support and would let the company know that the UFCW is taking this dispute seriously. Send Mike an invitation and see if he takes you up on the offer.

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