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Here's a fact for you: Tyree Johnson, who works at two different Chicago McDonald's restaurants and has worked at McDonald's for two decades, would have to work a million hours to make what the CEO of McDonald's made last year. Johnson earns $8.25 an hour, minimum wage in Illinois. The company's CEO made $8.75 million, and:
Shareholders, not employees, have reaped the rewards. McDonald’s, for example, spent $6 billion on share repurchases and dividends last year, the equivalent of $14,286 per restaurant worker employed by the company. At the same time, restaurant companies have formed an industrywide effort to freeze the minimum wage, whose purchasing power is 20 percent less than in 1968, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that advocates for low- and middle-income workers.
This is the backdrop against which workers like Johnson are getting involved with the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago and organizing—and striking—in New York City. Sarah Jaffe follows up with some of the workers who went on strike in New York on Nov. 29:
Pamela Flood, whom I met last week leading chants on the picket line outside that same Wendy's, told me that her boss at Burger King, who used to refer to her by her first name, is back to calling her Miss Flood.

Truvon Shim took the stage with Flood at both the fast-food workers' rally on strike day, and Thursday's rally of low-wage workers from across the city. He came to tell his story of losing everything in his Far Rockaway home to Superstorm Sandy, but also had his own victory to share.

Shim had asked his boss at Wendy's for a few days to deal with the storm's aftermath, but when he called to be added back to the schedule, was told there were no available hours. However, this week, along with an organizer from New York Communities for Change (NYCC), the group that began the fast-food worker campaign, Shim met with his general manager and was promised he'd get his hours back.

Another worker at the same Wendy's was told she'd be fired when she joined the strike, but got her job back under pressure from a rally that included City Councilman Jumaane Williams.

Along with Walmart workers, car wash workers, port truck drivers, warehouse workers, and others across the country, these fast food workers are part of a resurgence of militant action by low-wage workers who have for years been getting hammered by the race to the bottom corporate economy. Their numbers are small compared with the number of low-wage workers in this country, but these worker-activists are risking having their hours cut or being fired, when they're struggling to make ends meet to begin with. Every time one of them speaks out or walks out, it's an act of immense courage. And it looks like a wave that's building.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

  • Diarist jpmassar brought us The real war on Christmas: School cafeteria worker fired for feeding needy student. Only then, after public outcry, she was rehired.
  • Josh Eidelson discusses recent organizing at Walmart as an example of minority unionism.
  • A bright spot in Philadelphia: 2,500 security guards have joined a union and ratified their first contract. Under the new contract, wages will rise from current levels between $8 and $11 to between $10.45 and $13, and full-time security guards will have health care starting in 2014.

    Nobody's getting rich or even solidly middle-class—$13 an hour is $27,040 for a year of full-time work—but it's enough to change people's lives.

    "It means a lot to me," said Pamela Legg, 44, of West Philadelphia, a security guard at Temple University Hospital.

    "It means I'm going to get a raise. I'm going to have medical," she said.

    The security guards work at major Philadelphia institutions like Temple and the convention center, but are employed by four major national and international security contractors.
  • Walmart workers will rally in 10 countries tomorrow. The biggest U.S. protest will be in Miami.
  • Workers at Sunny Day car wash in the Bronx voted to unionize, though some of the votes are in contention before the National Labor Relations Board. If the vote holds up, that's the fifth New York City car wash to unionize.
  • Striking nursing home workers in Connecticut got a federal injunction against their employer, HealthBridge. According to the NLRB:
    A federal judge has ordered a Connecticut nursing home chain to offer reinstatement to approximately 600-700 workers, to rescind changes made to employee wages and benefits, and to bargain in good faith with the union that has long represented its employees. [...[

    The petition seeking the injunction alleged that after 19 months of bargaining, in June 2012, the company unilaterally implemented contract proposals affecting wages, hours,  benefit eligibility, and retirement and health benefits without first bargaining to a good faith impasse. Employees went on an unfair labor practice strike in protest. In mid-July, the employees through their union offered to return to work under the terms of the contract that existed prior to the unilateral implementation,  but the employer refused to bring them back.

    In his order, Judge Chatigny found reasonable cause to believe the employer has refused to bargain in good faith, and that there was a “pressing need to restore the status quo” that existed before the unilateral changes were made. Under the order, Healthbridge must make the offers of reinstatement by Dec. 17. The injunction will remain in effect while the NLRB resolves the underlying Healthbridge cases.

    HealthBridge asked for a stay of the injunction, but the judge turned them down.
  • Federal workers are unhappy, or at least, their happiness dropped more than in any year since 2003 when a survey started keeping track. Which, surprise! If you freeze people's pay for years and have powerful people on television every day suggesting firing them en masse, and cut the budgets to where they can't always effectively do their jobs, they aren't that happy. The survey also identifies best and worst places to work in government.
  • Contracts for cleaners, bathroom attendants, and other service workers in 32 Broadway theaters are expiring and the workers, who are members of SEIU 32BJ, have voted to authorize a strike if there's no deal by Dec. 30.
  • UNITE HERE and Hyatt workers are urging the hotel chain to put a hotel worker on its board of directors:
    Holding signs and speaking before large crowds, housekeepers say “someone like me” would make Hyatt a better company, for workers and shareholders alike. Democratic corporate governance structures that include workers have been successful in European countries for decades.

    “We all have a shared stake in Hyatt’s success, but no one who cleans rooms like me has a real say at Hyatt,” says Cathy Youngblood, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood.  “By choosing someone like me to be on the board, Hyatt could be a model for corporate America at a time when so many American workers feel left behind.”

    Currently, Hyatt has twelve directors on its board.  The new resolution proposes that a 13th board member be added from the ranks of Hyatt’s staff.

  • Walmart has been trying to move into India, but has hit a snag as the Indian government says it will be investigating Walmart lobbying.
  • Insurance liability in NFL concussion suits may have costly consequences
  • Security workers at JFK airport may be getting ready to strike over low pay, broken equipment, inadequate training, and more. All the things you want in airport security!

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 10:55 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  11 bucks an hour. (8+ / 0-)

    It's not complicated.

    We need the biggest minimum wage hike in history.

    We can have a three year phase in.

    If it had been the lynchpin in 2010, we would not have lost the House.

    We can win the House back with it in 2014.

    This place needs a PVP server.

    by JesseCW on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 11:16:27 AM PST

    •  Consequences (0+ / 0-)

      Sure, let's just ignore all the consequences that would have...

      •  You mean, like more jobs? Strengthening Social (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mary Mike

        Security?

        You mean...like...fewer people unable to afford a place to sleep?

        A big jump on shrinking the wealth gap?

        If we had a three year phase in, and started in 2015, that means we're talking 2018 by the time it's fully implemented.

        That would mean it would be no higher than it was in 1968.

        This place needs a PVP server.

        by JesseCW on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:01:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe not more jobs in fast food. (0+ / 0-)

          The fast food industry is quite price sensitive and there are obvious opportunities for major reductions in labor in most outlets.

          There is little reason to have people at the front counter taking orders/money when it can all be done more easily via apps on phones (or kiosks for those that may not have a smart phone or may not frequent a place often enough to bother to download an app/find the web site).

          This would benefit the customer as well:

          • Pay by credit card with one click along with placing the order.
          • No lines to wait to order.
          • Placing one of their "standard" orders with one button push.
          • Order would be placed correctly (no "oh, I asked for 'no onions' or forgetting to ask for 'no onions').
          • Easier ordering for a family/group where each person's order could be segregated during the ordering process so it's easier to keep track of "two large fries, three onion rings - or was it three large fries, two onion rings".
          • Opportunity to take advantage of targeted offers specific to the individual consumer's profile/history.
          • Ability to place the order before arriving and, with GPS tracking, actually have the order ready almost immediately up on the consumer's arrival (using predictive models of traffic, current traffic information, and consumers location/speed).
          • Eliminating the need to talk to an employee whose English language skills make effective communication difficult.

            Although this seems inevitable to me, increasing the minimum wage will only accelerate adoption of such technologies. A combination of the trend of ever cheaper technology coupled with a trend of increasing labor costs will drive businesses to move more quickly.

            I rarely eat at fast food outlets now, but when I did, I craved an automated ordering solution because I'm more tech savvy than most. However, the ubiquitous presence of smartphones coupled with more and more people becoming comfortable with technology lead me to hope retailers will finally get this right even if it took an increase in minimum wage to get the ball rolling. Sadly, it will however result in fewer low skill jobs.

          •  There was a big effort a few years back (0+ / 0-)

            to replace the person at the counter with a kiosk.

            It failed.  Customers don't like it.  They don't like your shit, they go somewhere else.

            Reality is that when you increase minimum wage, the people flipping burgers then have the cash to buy a burger.

            The principle isn't much different than Ford paying workers enough to buy his cars.

            This place needs a PVP server.

            by JesseCW on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 04:58:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Times change as younger, more technological... (0+ / 0-)

              ...savvy consumers increasingly dominate the landscape and as the Luddites see the benefits that the more flexible and insightful customers enjoy by using technology.

              I don't expect that the "order in person" option will completely go away for a long time - just that as other more efficient and consumer friendly options become available, the demand for "in person" order takers will decline and therefore fewer "order takers" will be employed - much as there are far fewer folks employed as telephone operators than there were fifty years ago even though call volume has skyrocketed.

              The kiosk in the store doesn't add nearly as much value to the consumer that ordering by smartphone does so assuming that because kiosks were not popular, smartphone ordering will not be is not logical.

              In the area I live, major supermarkets all have "self serve" check stands available -- and I've not used a "full service" check stand in probably two or three years at those stores. And they are adding, not eliminating self serve check stands over time. Sometimes the lines are longer at the self-serve check stands than the conventional ones. Admittedly, I live in a technical savvy area, but the area has historically been a harbinger of things to come.

              When ATMs were first introduced, many people were not comfortable with them and continued to utilize tellers. However, ten or fifteen years later, most of those reluctant people had embraced the ATM for its convenience.

          •  it's not just about the food (0+ / 0-)

            Even the most mechanized fast food joint is not just about the fast food.  People actually like interacting with the staff, even if it's only a fleeting encounter.

      •  I think bc means consequences TO KLEPTOCRATS. (0+ / 0-)

        A "readjustment" of even a minor part of the power of wealth would cause untold reductions in the sale of home car elevators and "water features." And a precipitate drop in the "value" of mansions. And please, Jesus, don't let it happen, an increase in the uppityness of The Help.

        The horror! The horror!

        "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

        by jm214 on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:32:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's a beginning (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    suesue, Mary Mike, Larsstephens
    Their numbers are small compared with the number of low-wage workers in this country,
    And such people pave the way for others to be braver and bolder, until often there is a mass movement underway.

    "...you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem." Mitt Romney

    by Catte Nappe on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 11:37:49 AM PST

  •  The 1% want all of us to be minimum (7+ / 0-)

    wage workers (or the equivalent) - busting butt to be able to pay bills.  Even the college educated, saddled with mortgage size debt on graduation even from public universities, are joining those ranks in terms of scratching to pay their bills.

    We were a fairer, more just society when the rich were taxed, when the income of Wall Street Thieves and Trust Funders were taxed at the same rate as regular earned income, and when we funded public services and education to give our kids a boost.  Today, not so much.  

    We have allowed the 1% to become the real Welfare Queens and Moochers by failing to tax them, allowing them special tax avoidance loopholes, failing to prosecute their money hiding and tax cheating (and criminal activities), and giving their corporations huge amounts of taxpayer money in subsidies.  We give them the benefits of our courts, infrastructure, and other "common good" government benefits that they don't pay for.

    Enough.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 11:39:45 AM PST

    •  The top 1% would actually... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKDAWUSS, Puddytat

      prefer not to pay anyone at all.

      The irony is that Downton Abbey is so popular across the board, yet those watching it don't realize that many of them would be below stairs with no hope of ever getting past the Green Felt door.

      To the world you are one person. To one person, you are the world. They can have John Galt, I'll take Joe Hill any day.

      by p a roberson on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:29:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  1% privilege in the GWOT. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat

      Bradley Manning releases a video, for our benefit, showing our military murdering 15 people and is charged with a capital crime, aiding the enemy. A big bank, HSBC, actually aids the enemy, laundering money for them and faces a fine:

      http://www.democracynow.org/...

      "...on the (catch a) human network. Cisco."

      by hoplite9 on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 02:38:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

        BP pollutes the Gulf, runs people into poverty, pays a small fine out of their enormous profits, and continues on as though nothing happened.  Ditto Wall Street.  Ditto the Banksters.  Ditto Big Pharma.  Ditto Big Corporations.

        We need to remind our elected officials that if bank robbers paid only a small portion of their "take" instead of facing prison, we'd probably all be at banks with little notes for the tellers.

        Being held accountable matters.

        There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

        by Puddytat on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 04:16:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's about time the "Reagan Revolution" (4+ / 0-)

    is exposed for what it really was:  A big fat FUCK YOU to everyone who earns a wage in this country.

    All you have to do is look at the wealth shift since 1980, the year St. Emptyhead was elected, and then track the real wages for the lower and middle classes since then.

    I'm not sixty-two—I'm fifty-twelve!

    by Pragmatus on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 11:40:40 AM PST

  •  I like. It pleases me very much. Thanks. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    concernedamerican, Mary Mike

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 11:41:18 AM PST

  •  Worst offense is clocking out practice by managers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW, Mary Mike

    I think it's supposed to be illegal. But illegal or not, it is such a despicable practice by managers. When I worked at a Wendy's long time ago, I was told to clock out when the crowds were dwindled down after lunch and clock back in an hour later. Shocking there were a couple of employees who meekly went along with it. I pretty much told the manager that if I clocked out,  I wasn't clocking back in. But i had th eluxury of quitting that job because it was just a fun thing for me to try out before I got a real job. Other people do nothave that luxury.

    •  That's not the worst offense. Today, managers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alexandra Lynch, pravin, Pragmatus

      routinely assign more work than can possibly be done unless you skip your break or lunch.

      The CheeseCake Factory, for example, is notorious for trying to schedule workers for an unpaid "Lunch break" right at the start of their shift.

      Then, the second they "start work" they have to be waiting their tables.  No prep time.

      That means all their prep actually has to be done during the "lunch break", when they're required to show up without pay.

      It's not just sit around at our beck and call getting paid nothing until we want you back on the clock...it's "work for free or get written up for not having your work done".

      This place needs a PVP server.

      by JesseCW on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 11:51:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is worse (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW
      •  My daughter worked at the Cheesecake Factory (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW

        and when the economy tanked, they reduced everyone's hours and hired more people.  At that time they had to work 25 hours a week to qualify for the benefit plan.  Their hours were reduced to 22 - 24 hours a week.  It was an obvious effort to avoid paying for insurance and, sadly, it worked.

        “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

        by musiclady on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:29:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Incompetence doesn't pay much... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev, Gooserock, subbob

    How incompetent do you have to be to work at a job for 20 years and still be making minimum wage?

    •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

      Not trying to cast shame on working at McDonald's but even if you had worked at various McDonald's over the past 20 years, then that would mean that you would have an awful lot of experience at doing whatever it is that McDonald's does. And I would expect that you would be paid accordingly.

      I don't get that one.

      •  Not everyone wants to be Drum Major. (0+ / 0-)

        And, we don't want to put up with the bullshit and politics and brown nosing to climb that corporate ladder. We just want to punch the time card, do our damn boring ass job and punch out, tyvm. And, if that's the TeaPub definition of slacker, moocher, yada yada, so be it, but many of us just don't want to deal with the corporate bullshit.

    •  Not Everybody in the Band Can Be Drum Major. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winkk

      When I worked fast food there were some low IQ and mentally disabled workers on board.

      So there are ways.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:00:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If I'm the employer (0+ / 0-)

      If the worker is that incompetent, then I fire him or her...

      I don't mean to be a meanie or anything but something with that story doesn't add up (felony convictions?)

      •  Some employees in mimimum wage... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winkk

        ...jobs have limited intellectual skills and/or drive and/or interest in the job beyond a paycheck (but have a good work ethic).

        In spite of this, they can be competent workers but ones who will never advance career wise (for example to manager, shift supervisor, or foreman). I'm not sure why an employer would fire someone who was doing a good job just because they had been doing it for twenty years.

        Now, I wouldn't pay them more than a person that had one year's experience unless they were doing a better or broader job than that person. Years of experience at one job does not necessarily improve job performance.

    •  for real (0+ / 0-)

      I've known people with 8th grade educations that were making well more than minimum wage.  Sure you don't want to rock the boat and ask for a raise and maybe get fired, but after 20 years.....I mean really.

    •  Entry Level Jobs? (0+ / 0-)

      It's not about incompetence; it's about upward mobility and ambition.

      Those are meant to be entry level jobs, done by someone while they better themselves (getting education, acquiring skills, etc.)

      •  Gee...and that a legitimate reason... (0+ / 0-)

        ...for not paying them for the work they do??

        Just because burger flipper jobs are filled by young people just starting out in the workforce is no reason to justify exploitating them this much. Not to mention that many of these people are women raising children.

        Also, there are plenty of businesses who find new and creative ways of screwing their more experienced workers....such as finding extraneous reasons to write them up for minor offenses enough to get them fired, then magically propose to rehire them after a month of unsuccessful job hunting, but with all their accumulated salary and benefits ripped away. Thusly, you have a worker at 10 years still making barely above minimum wage.

        They deserve a raise and better conditions as much as any other worker.  In fact, it's entry level exploitation that lays the foundation for the successful exploitation of the rest of the workforce.

  •  I have a question (0+ / 0-)

    How in the hell do you work at McDonald's for 20 years and you still make minimum wage?

    I mean, no salary increases or promotions, no training in doing anything else?

  •  Wow, If Mickey D'd Only Cut Stockholder Rewards (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winkk

    1/3, that'd leave 5 grand more for each restaurant worker that year.

    That'd be a helluva raise for any of them.

    But this is the beauty of Reaganism. When you strip away the brakes from top end income and cap gains, a few sectors like finance and import become hyper profitable.

    Then the entire rest of the economy has to try to achieve hyper profitability to attract investors.

    If McD's had spent that 1/3 of investor perks on its workforce, they'd have boosted the economy across the country. But I have to suspect they'd have a much tougher time getting investors.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 11:58:46 AM PST

  •  Low skilled and low wage workers MUST unionize (0+ / 0-)

    I dont understand why its the worst nitemare for the Billionaire owners and their hard driving CEOs.

    Henry Ford paid his workers enough to buy the cars and he thrived, the workers thrived and society prospered as a whole.

    I just dont get the greed of the current Billionaires like koch and de vos of Michigan.

    How did EIU get hotel worker to unionize say in Nevada but not in Texas?

    How much in dues to these Hotel workers pay per month?

    I live in a deep red state with no unions (Right to work for less) where low skilled low wage eaners are fired willy nilly.

    Companies like CVS Pharmacy in Oklahoma, Texas, when they employ cashiers or Pharmacy Technicians, they devote a whole afternoon session toward fighting unions - they main message is that the bosses have an open door policy so take your grievances there - no need for unions and report ASAP any union activity.

    Nursing Assistants (CNAs) who clean poop and perineums and phlegm and urine get paid 9 bucks/hr. 9 freakin bucks and you gotta wait 3 mo, before junk health insurance (70$/fortnightly) kicks in. Yet they have no unions!!!

    How much in union dues do you suppose these folks need to pay per month from their meager wages? The cost of union membersip may scare some of these folks. How much would it cost, and would the unions then fight for compensatory increases in wages and win?

  •  The stock market (0+ / 0-)

    has totally perverted our economic system.  How can capitalism work when building a better widget matters less than how your numbers look on Wall Street?

    Companies and corporations are no longer the ends; they are the means to an end - simple ledgers on a betting table.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:14:38 PM PST

  •  I remember a time long ago... (0+ / 0-)

    when McDonalds was a great place to work, they even had their own McDonalds University to train their employees in managment skills, etc.

    Like a lot of other businesses, McDonalds went the "screw the employees" route.

    To the world you are one person. To one person, you are the world. They can have John Galt, I'll take Joe Hill any day.

    by p a roberson on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:27:10 PM PST

  •  So... what? Are they unionizing? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Most of the people working there are those (0+ / 0-)

    who have nowhere else to go in this economic climate.

  •  It means I'm going to get a raise. I'm going to ha (0+ / 0-)

    Well yeah if the position stays around.

  •  This posting calls attention once again (0+ / 0-)

    to the fact that we need a big increase in the minimum wage.  In Australia the minimum wage is around $16 an hour, and unemployment is much lower than in the U.S.  To avoid a serious shock to the economy, I propose that the minimum wage in the U.S. be raised by $1 an hour every year for the next 15 years.

    Raising the minimum wage should be part of the Grand Bargain budget deal, since it reduces people's need for some government programs like food stamps, increases tax revenues without increasing tax rates, and does not require new government spending (so in theory anyway, Republicans should love it).  

  •  Wrong Direction - Lower Wage/Increase Competition (0+ / 0-)

    Lower the minimum wage to make room for truly entry level jobs, thus giving teenagers an opportunity to learn job skills.

    This then creates a buffer so that people can move up and get raises. If the minimum wage is increased to $16 (as mentioned above) it would be a disaster. Many jobs would be eliminated, benefits cut even more and as costs were passed on to consumers, prices would rise across the board.

    •  You do know this is Daily Kos.... (0+ / 0-)

      ....not RedState, right??

      You do know that eliminating the minimum wage and simply allowing employers to use cheaper labor to boost their profits will simply screw current workers who rely on that wage exclusively for their livelihoods, do you??

      I'm not necessarily for a $16/ minimum..but $12 for entry level workers, with incemental increases and indexing for inflation and experience, would be an excellent start.

      If a service is that cheap that they can't pay workers fully for their effort, then it shouldn't exist...and if is that needed, then perhaps it should be either a worker's cooperative or a public service. Why does it always have be come down to squeezing people for private profits, anyway??

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