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A strike in this economy?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
The grocery workers here at one of the chains (Safeway) have voted to OK a strike as soon as Monday. If one store strikes, another (King Soopers) has agreed to lock out their union workers, even though they have agreed to extend the contract until May 30 for more negotiations.

http://www.9news.com/news/article.as...5403&catid=339

Maybe it's just me, and I fully admit that I am not a supporter unions in general, but a strike in this economy just plain makes me so mad I can't hardly see straight. How many people don't have jobs and can't find work? they are complaining because $35 million is too little to add to their pension fund. Most of us working in the real world don't even HAVE pensions. I heard another one of the provisions that they REALLY don't like is that the grocers want to change the pension requirement from 25 years to 30 years of employment. I sure don't plan on retiring anywhere NEAR 25 years of work, or even 30. How many of us won't get any kind of pay raise this year, or are looking at losing our jobs if the economy doesn't pick up soon?

I realize it's a 5 year contract they are negotiating, but the demands of the union seem pretty unreasonable to me. And if they strike, they better not expect any kind of sympathy from my when I cross the picket lines!
post #2 of 24
There was a time in our history where unions were needed. Now, they are all about greed and that greed has closed down many businesses. I blame the unions for the problems with the big 3 car companies and I don't believe all the rhetoric the union reps are spewing about that not being true.

I agree with you Heidi. They might just as well walk around with masks on for they truly are bandits IMO.
post #3 of 24
To a very large extent, a union is the natural punishment of bad management. Unfortunately, once you have the union, you will probably have it, no matter how good management might become.

Safeway has a long history of union problems. I used to deliver at some of their warehouses, and they were just terrible to deal with, due to union rules. Stupid stuff, like if they didn't finish unloading your truck in a certainl length of time, you had to go away, make a new appointment, and come back the next day.
post #4 of 24
Working for the Postal Service, I can say that, although unions have been given too much power and have created WAY too many silly rules, unions are entirely necesary or management will get horribly abusive. They try stuff all the time even WITH the union breathing over their shoulders.....I can't imagine how bad it would be if there was no union at all. I agree that limits need to be placed on union power, but doing away with unions completely would be a very bad idea.

I can't say that I understand the issues behind the grocery workers' strike. So I can't really say if the strike is necessary or not. But you can't just let management do whatever's best for them all the time, so sometimes a strike is needed.
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
There was a time in our history where unions were needed. Now, they are all about greed and that greed has closed down many businesses. I blame the unions for the problems with the big 3 car companies and I don't believe all the rhetoric the union reps are spewing about that not being true.
I agree 100%. That was just about exactly what I was going to post myself! I used to be part of a union when I worked at ShopRite when I was 16-17. Wasn't really educated about them then, except they took $ from my check each week. Now that I'm more educated about them and see what they've done to businesses as well as the Big 3, I'm just appalled.
post #6 of 24
Good management (and yes, there is such a thing) has no problem with treating its employees well. An example would be Watkins Motor Lines. Their employees made better than union scale, were happy, treated well, with great benefits. But the Watkins family was aging and decided to cash out. They sold to FedEx, and the company is now FedEx National LTL.

The first thing they did was terminate all the local contractors. They hired a lot of them as company drivers, but they ruined a number of people financially. Then they terminated all the long-haul contractors in 5 of their domiciles in order to cut down on costs. (That included me. No warning, nothing.) Now they are fiddling with everything and everybody, and I expect they will soon be unionized, just to protect the drivers and dock workers from this constant drip of bad news.

I might also mention Little Debbie (McKee Bakeries), which has no such problems, and there is absolutely no danger of Wal-Mart's drivers unionizing.

And that UPS strike back in...what, 1998?...did a lot of good, didn't it? At the time, financial analysts said the rank and file would have to work 5 years at the new rate just to recover what they lost during the strike.

The worst thing about a union is that it fosters an adversarial type of attitude on the parts of both parties. The UAW ***AND*** the car companies are reaping the harvest of that attitude today.

And now, a funny union story. I once worked at the Downtown Dallas Hilton, the only union hotel in Dallas at that time. I worked night front desk/statistics clerk. Dottie worked days in the accounting department. Mine was a union-eligible job. Hers wasn't. When the contracts came up for negotiation, the hotel was prepared to go to 5% raises, which is what they gave all the non-union workers. The union demanded 8%. The hotel offered 2%. They finally settled at 3%. So, essentially, the union negotiated the employees out of 40% of the raise they would have gotten. And they were very proud of it, too. That hotel is out of business today, by the way.
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willowy View Post
Working for the Postal Service, I can say that, although unions have been given too much power and have created WAY too many silly rules, unions are entirely necesary or management will get horribly abusive. They try stuff all the time even WITH the union breathing over their shoulders.....I can't imagine how bad it would be if there was no union at all. I agree that limits need to be placed on union power, but doing away with unions completely would be a very bad idea.

I can't say that I understand the issues behind the grocery workers' strike. So I can't really say if the strike is necessary or not. But you can't just let management do whatever's best for them all the time, so sometimes a strike is needed.
I had a friend whose SO worked for the Postal Service in Canada. The night shift employees basically slept their shift away or would open book club packages and read during their shift and all had mega-years of service. Great job if you can get it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
Good management (and yes, there is such a thing) has no problem with treating its employees well. An example would be Watkins Motor Lines. Their employees made better than union scale, were happy, treated well, with great benefits. But the Watkins family was aging and decided to cash out. They sold to FedEx, and the company is now FedEx National LTL.

The first thing they did was terminate all the local contractors. They hired a lot of them as company drivers, but they ruined a number of people financially. Then they terminated all the long-haul contractors in 5 of their domiciles in order to cut down on costs. (That included me. No warning, nothing.) Now they are fiddling with everything and everybody, and I expect they will soon be unionized, just to protect the drivers and dock workers from this constant drip of bad news.

I might also mention Little Debbie (McKee Bakeries), which has no such problems, and there is absolutely no danger of Wal-Mart's drivers unionizing.

And that UPS strike back in...what, 1998?...did a lot of good, didn't it? At the time, financial analysts said the rank and file would have to work 5 years at the new rate just to recover what they lost during the strike.

The worst thing about a union is that it fosters an adversarial type of attitude on the parts of both parties. The UAW ***AND*** the car companies are reaping the harvest of that attitude today.

And now, a funny union story. I once worked at the Downtown Dallas Hilton, the only union hotel in Dallas at that time. I worked night front desk/statistics clerk. Dottie worked days in the accounting department. Mine was a union-eligible job. Hers wasn't. When the contracts came up for negotiation, the hotel was prepared to go to 5% raises, which is what they gave all the non-union workers. The union demanded 8%. The hotel offered 2%. They finally settled at 3%. So, essentially, the union negotiated the employees out of 40% of the raise they would have gotten. And they were very proud of it, too. That hotel is out of business today, by the way.
Well said. I worked for 28 years for Union Carbide. Out of all their locations in Canada, only one location was unionized and believe me they made less and had less benefits than non-unionized workers. I worked in HR so I know this to be true. The company went above and beyond to treat their employees right and it was considered one of the very best companies to work for. Unfortunately, after the sabotage at Bhopal (and it was sabotage by a disgruntled worker), the NY lawyers contributed to destroying a once great company.
post #8 of 24
I work for AT&T and right now the core, or telephone company part, I work in the advertising or phone book part, is authorized to strike, but they are working on an extended contract. Our union is IMO, pretty weak, but if we didn't have it then AT&T management would run rampant, they do that to a certain degree with the union

My union negotiates for a raise every year, full benefits and job security is a state where you can fired for any reason. If we weren't union I would be willing to bet the farm that we would not have the pay or benefits we have

The bone of contention in this contract negotiation is benefits, they want us to start paying for a portion, which I personally do not have a problem with as long as it is reasonable, finding a job with completely included benefits is like finding a needle in a haystack these days, and I feel very lucky that I have the excellent benefits that I do. What I'm worried about is the retirees, my Mom and Dad are both retirees of AT&T and it is possible for the company to cancel their benefits or drastically reduce them. After working for this company for 30+ years and having that happen is inexcusable IMO
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Katie, I completely understand your point of view, and frankly I think you are one of the few reasonable union workers I've met or heard from. Frankly, yes, since there is no way I will ever work in a unionized industry simply because of what I do, I do think that overall the unions demand far too much from the corporations which suffer because of it.

You're right, it is very rare to find a company that pays 100% healthcare benefits. Almost unheard of, if you're not in a union, for any kind of pension. I agree, they should honor the agreements made with those who have already retired. But I do think that the current workforce shouldn't expect to get the same deal as the workers of days gone by. The world has changed, the unions should change with it and the workers should be willing to give and take the same as the rest of the working country.

For instance, the grocers union is having a fit about the pension provision because the stores want to raise retirement age from 50 to 55. Seriously. As much as I would want to, no way I will be able to retire, let alone with the pension plan they are offering, at 50 or 55. For those who are age 49 1/2, yeah, that would suck. I could see making a provision for those who would have otherwise retired within 5 years. But no, they are just flat out refusing having to work until age 55. Don't like it? Try finding any other company that has that kind of retirement provision! No sympathy from me there.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
I had a friend whose SO worked for the Postal Service in Canada. The night shift employees basically slept their shift away or would open book club packages and read during their shift and all had mega-years of service. Great job if you can get it.
Oh, I've heard stories of the night-shift plant workers. I don't know HOW they get away with it, except that most of them are almost ready to retire and it would cost more to fire them than to let them sleep until their retirement date. I work in a small-town PO and we all have to pull our weight or it just wouldn't work.

I still think that management has no incentive to treat their workers well without SOMEONE enforcing the rules. My dad used to work for the local University, and they fired him on trumped-up false charges, and he had NO legal recourse because this is an at-will state and they can fire whomever they want whenever they want, for no reason or for false reasons. Because of what they said about him, he wasn't able to get another job until he applied at the Post Office, and they evidently either don't contact the former emplyer or don't caer about what they say.

But really I don't understand a lot of the union stuff. The main reason I belong to the union is because they offer a really good insurance plan and I only have to pay about $15 a month in premiums. So the union dues are offset by the insurance savings.

I agree completely with katiemae1277. She said it better than I could!
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willowy View Post
Oh, I've heard stories of the night-shift plant workers. I don't know HOW they get away with it, except that most of them are almost ready to retire and it would cost more to fire them than to let them sleep until their retirement date. I work in a small-town PO and we all have to pull our weight or it just wouldn't work.
I take issue with the above statement. My father was Union for 40+ years and he always said it was the young guys sleeping in the locker rooms. In my experience, older workers were the one with the best work ethic, NOT the younger ones.
Quote:
I still think that management has no incentive to treat their workers well without SOMEONE enforcing the rules. My dad used to work for the local University, and they fired him on trumped-up false charges, and he had NO legal recourse because this is an at-will state and they can fire whomever they want whenever they want, for no reason or for false reasons. Because of what they said about him, he wasn't able to get another job until he applied at the Post Office, and they evidently either don't contact the former emplyer or don't caer about what they say.
Not ALL management is crummy, so not all companies NEED a union.
My brother is the best boss ever, there is no need for a union at our company. Believe it or not, not all companies are the evil devil.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckblv View Post
I take issue with the above statement. My father was Union for 40+ years and he always said it was the young guys sleeping in the locker rooms. In my experience, older workers were the one with the best work ethic, NOT the younger ones.


Not ALL management is crummy, so not all companies NEED a union.
My brother is the best boss ever, there is no need for a union at our company. Believe it or not, not all companies are the evil devil.
Cindy, I agree with you. The older workers had much better work ethics. I also agree that not all companies need unions. I've worked in both environments and much prefer non-union environments.
post #13 of 24
I've been with the postal service for almost ten years. I can live without management and the union.
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
The thing is that in a healthy, competitive market, management does have the incentive to treat workers well and offer benefits packages because that will retain good workers. That was the reason for benefits packages to begin with, it was to attract and keep the best possible workers. It wasn't because workers or unions thought they deserved them or demanded them.

Part of the problem right now is that it isn't a healthy, competitive market. Supply and demand. There is an abundance of available workers, which drives down the "price" of a job. Especially with Obama promising healthcare, the idea of even taxing healthcare benefits in order to pay for the healthcare "reform", etc. there is even less incentive for employers to offer the benefits packages and high wages to new employees. Frankly in this economy...I bet the grocery stores could fire the unions all together and find replacement workers pretty easily. That's why I am really incredulous that the unions are still making the same kind of demands that they have in the past.
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb View Post
The thing is that in a healthy, competitive market, management does have the incentive to treat workers well and offer benefits packages because that will retain good workers. That was the reason for benefits packages to begin with, it was to attract and keep the best possible workers. It wasn't because workers or unions thought they deserved them or demanded them.

Part of the problem right now is that it isn't a healthy, competitive market. Supply and demand. There is an abundance of available workers, which drives down the "price" of a job. Especially with Obama promising healthcare, the idea of even taxing healthcare benefits in order to pay for the healthcare "reform", etc. there is even less incentive for employers to offer the benefits packages and high wages to new employees. Frankly in this economy...I bet the grocery stores could fire the unions all together and find replacement workers pretty easily. That's why I am really incredulous that the unions are still making the same kind of demands that they have in the past.
The sad part is that when they lose their jobs and companies have folded because the union has demanded more than a company can afford, the union will still be their "friend" because of the propaganda they've been fed and believe and the company will be the evil master that caused their demise.
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
The sad part is that when they lose their jobs and companies have folded because the union has demanded more than a company can afford, the union will still be their "friend" because of the propaganda they've been fed and believe and the company will be the evil master that caused their demise.
I think you are right, it just make me shake my head in disbelief.

It is always big, bad management's fault.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Essayons89 View Post
I've been with the postal service for almost ten years. I can live without management and the union.
Cool, another Postal employee. Well, yeah, without management you wouldn't need a union. I could live without both of them, but living with one without the other wouldn't be any fun.

I'm not saying that all management is big and bad (I like the Postmaster in our office, he's a great guy), but if they try to give my overtime to a temp employee because they pay him less per hour, or take away my work because the Postmaster can do it instead, something needs to be done. If higher management had their way, nothing would get done. USPS (and probably most large companies) is top-heavy and could easily lose some higher-management jobs without missing them. And then they wouldn't have to take away worker's jobs to "save money".

I think smaller companies could be fine without a union. But larger companies (USPS, FedEx, AT&T, etc.) need the checks and balances.

I also think that the main reason companies with good management stay that way is because they're scared their employees will unionize. If there were no unions at all, they wouldn't be scared of that possibility and would have no incentive to provide decent management.
post #18 of 24
So, the workers at Safeway may go out on strike, huh.... No comprehension that there are non-union, unemployed peole waiting, just waiting to take those jobs.

I was never a union-protected employee. But I did see a lot of abuse on the part of individuals b/c of silly work rules - in both the TV business and auto.

Sometimes the behavior of the video-tape editors (unionized) would put an entire news cast in jeopardy... and there was no talking to them about it. We couldn't do anything about it and had to tip-toe around it. One guy would just refuse to do stuff, he would call in "sick" just about every Friday and still get paid... after a certain number of sick days he would still get something like 80 percent -- maybe less... but I was working my butt off as a writer and if I missed a day, too bad.There went my per diem. I wasn't a full time employee. 32 hrs a week. And even if I had been FT - I certainly didn't have THAT kind of cushion.

I would hear about all kinds of stuff on the auto factory floors.... lazy, overprotected people hiding behind ridiculous rules. I know a couple of guys in their younger days who worked in auto plants... and when there was nothing for them to do, they would grab a broom and try sweeping up.. .or do SOMETHING and the older union guys would say - hey you CANT do that.. not a union job... or something like that. Sometimes ... .get sent home if there was nothing to do AND get paid for NOT being there.... Sheesh!!!
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by AddieBee View Post
So, the workers at Safeway may go out on strike, huh.... No comprehension that there are non-union, unemployed peole waiting, just waiting to take those jobs.

I was never a union-protected employee. But I did see a lot of abuse on the part of individuals b/c of silly work rules - in both the TV business and auto.

Sometimes the behavior of the video-tape editors (unionized) would put an entire news cast in jeopardy... and there was no talking to them about it. We couldn't do anything about it and had to tip-toe around it. One guy would just refuse to do stuff, he would call in "sick" just about every Friday and still get paid... after a certain number of sick days he would still get something like 80 percent -- maybe less... but I was working my butt off as a writer and if I missed a day, too bad.There went my per diem. I wasn't a full time employee. 32 hrs a week. And even if I had been FT - I certainly didn't have THAT kind of cushion.

I would hear about all kinds of stuff on the auto factory floors.... lazy, overprotected people hiding behind ridiculous rules. I know a couple of guys in their younger days who worked in auto plants... and when there was nothing for them to do, they would grab a broom and try sweeping up.. .or do SOMETHING and the older union guys would say - hey you CANT do that.. not a union job... or something like that. Sometimes ... .get sent home if there was nothing to do AND get paid for NOT being there.... Sheesh!!!
This post is bang on! And those are some of the things I also hate about unions. The work is not a real team effort - it's a situation of this is my job and that is your job and don't you dare do anything that is not in your job description or allowed by the union. It's just nuts!
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
This post is bang on! And those are some of the things I also hate about unions. The work is not a real team effort - it's a situation of this is my job and that is your job and don't you dare do anything that is not in your job description or allowed by the union. It's just nuts!
It's protection gone haywire! It's "not my job" or "it's not a union job." See, the UAW would threaten to strike or go out on strike and with Just in Time delivery of components... the ripple effect of a shut down was huge!!! It was cheaper in the short term to settle. The auto companies would buckle and agree often to stupid stuff along with the good stuff, just to get the lines running again.... Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

My sister's boyfriend is one of the people I was talking about who worked in the auto plant in OK many years ago. When he said he was going off to college the old guys said to him, why, you can get a good job here!!! Well, he's a professor of English Literature at the University of Michigan now. I think he's happy with his choice!
post #21 of 24
One thing I find interesting is that those who are not and have never been in a union job have a lot of opinions on the way a union works

I have been in my union job for 10 years and my mom and dad both retired from their union jobs after 30 years and my grandpa was also union worker, so being in a union is like second nature and I honestly could not imagine working in a non-union job. I think Willowy said it best

Quote:
I'm not saying that all management is big and bad (I like the Postmaster in our office, he's a great guy), but if they try to give my overtime to a temp employee because they pay him less per hour, or take away my work because the Postmaster can do it instead, something needs to be done. If higher management had their way, nothing would get done. USPS (and probably most large companies) is top-heavy and could easily lose some higher-management jobs without missing them. And then they wouldn't have to take away worker's jobs to "save money".

I think smaller companies could be fine without a union. But larger companies (USPS, FedEx, AT&T, etc.) need the checks and balances.
In large, national companies I think a union is very necessary also- do you really think the bigwigs in St Louis, MO care about the peon employees here in Akron, OH? (referring to AT&T) Heck no! All they care about is the bottom line and that is why we need the union to protect us from them laying everyone off and hiring people in at minimum wage to do our jobs, cause trust me, they would do it in half a heart beat
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by katiemae1277 View Post
In large, national companies I think a union is very necessary also- do you really think the bigwigs in St Louis, MO care about the peon employees here in Akron, OH? (referring to AT&T) Heck no! All they care about is the bottom line and that is why we need the union to protect us from them laying everyone off and hiring people in at minimum wage to do our jobs, cause trust me, they would do it in half a heart beat
This may be a bit of a generalization.

I've worked for small and large companies. The largest had many locations across Canada and only 1 location was unionized. The non-union locations were treated as well if not better in benefits and salaries and I know this for a fact as I worked in HR where the decisions on benefits and wages were made as well as typing up the union contract for the one location that was unionized. Some small companies are terrible to their employees and for sure a union would help those employees. If any employer, small or large, is mistreating employees then yes I agree a union may help the employees but if the company is paying comparable wages and has comparable benefits to other companies in the area, then there is no need for a union.

I also believe that if you work for a company you cannot trust or respect, then you are working in the wrong place and should look for another job because chances are you are not going to be happy no matter what.
post #23 of 24
Katie - you misunderstand me. I am not saying all unions are bad. I understand employee abuse ALL TOO WELL!!!!!

What I don't like is when the union goes haywire and becomes the tail that wags the dog. This was, until recently, very true in the auto industry.

Business often does not value its human capital ....

What makes me crazy is the union protecting lazy, incompetent or ineffectual people just because they are union members. Like the video-tape editor I was talking about above. He dogged EVERYTHING and there was nothing management could do about it. Why shouldn't someone like that be replaced with another skilled person who DOES want to show up every day and give 110 percent!?

It's rampant in the US government as well. A friend of mine who did consulting work would see it everywhere... people sitting around, not doing anything, wouldn't help her get the info she needed b/c they didn't want to or it "wasn't their job"... and she just had to work around it.

Oh, I nearly forgot. I was a member of AFTRA for a while when I first started in the TV News business ( part of the AFL-CIO). The union did NOTHING for me personally except take dues out of my checks. And I couldn't do non-signatory voice work when I moved back here... and couldn't break in WITH the signatories. So I was screwed. And got no help from the union.
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
This may be a bit of a generalization.

I've worked for small and large companies. The largest had many locations across Canada and only 1 location was unionized. The non-union locations were treated as well if not better in benefits and salaries and I know this for a fact as I worked in HR where the decisions on benefits and wages were made as well as typing up the union contract for the one location that was unionized. Some small companies are terrible to their employees and for sure a union would help those employees. If any employer, small or large, is mistreating employees then yes I agree a union may help the employees but if the company is paying comparable wages and has comparable benefits to other companies in the area, then there is no need for a union.

I also believe that if you work for a company you cannot trust or respect, then you are working in the wrong place and should look for another job because chances are you are not going to be happy no matter what.
I can only speak for the company that I work for of course, but I will say that in AT&T when the jobs were being cut guess who went first? The non-union employees And AT&T is not just a large company, AT&T is massive and all decisions come from the top and they don't know me from Adam so what would be their incentive to treat me fairly? I personally think that it is these companies that a union is most needed, when the management is so far removed from the everyday employee

And I never said I was unhappy in my job, I love my job (most of the time) I make beyond excellent pay and receive beyond excellent benefits for what I do. AT&T is a global powerhouse and I am proud to say I work for them, but you're right in that I do not trust management as far as I could throw them, but that's why I have the union
Quote:
Originally Posted by AddieBee View Post
Katie - you misunderstand me. I am not saying all unions are bad. I understand employee abuse ALL TOO WELL!!!!!

What I don't like is when the union goes haywire and becomes the tail that wags the dog. This was, until recently, very true in the auto industry.

Business often does not value its human capital ....

What makes me crazy is the union protecting lazy, incompetent or ineffectual people just because they are union members. Like the video-tape editor I was talking about above. He dogged EVERYTHING and there was nothing management could do about it. Why shouldn't someone like that be replaced with another skilled person who DOES want to show up every day and give 110 percent!?

It's rampant in the US government as well. A friend of mine who did consulting work would see it everywhere... people sitting around, not doing anything, wouldn't help her get the info she needed b/c they didn't want to or it "wasn't their job"... and she just had to work around it.

Oh, I nearly forgot. I was a member of AFTRA for a while when I first started in the TV News business ( part of the AFL-CIO). The union did NOTHING for me personally except take dues out of my checks. And I couldn't do non-signatory voice work when I moved back here... and couldn't break in WITH the signatories. So I was screwed. And got no help from the union.
Unfortunately you are right, Addie, in that there are those who abuse the union's protection, but by no means is that the majority. But, honestly, you will find those situations in every workplace whether they are union or not. You'll always have the boss' pets, or relatives of the owner, or what have you, that get paid for doing nothing.

I also will agree that in some industries, the union scratches it's own back, like the auto unions, and they will not bend when bending is necessary, but again, that is not every union. There are thousands of unions in the US and most are willing to work with the company to find the best possible outcome for all parties.

Like i said previously, I am a born and raised union supporter. Since I am in a union I see both the good and the bad that my union does and I have to say that in my eyes, the good far outweighs the bad
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