Wednesday, December 21, 2005

To Secretary Bodman

From Anonymous:
______________________

Dear Secretary Bodman,

I am saddened to see that UC/ Bechtel was rewarded the contract for
LANL, but what was more disheartening was the fact that no one
mentioned anything about the most important issue to every employee
at both LANL and LLNL. That would be their retirement plan and
medical benefits.

After two years of listening to people express their concerns I have
found that benefits is all that the people care about, and yet DOE
and NNSA have ignored these concerns entirely; leave few viable
avenues to take. Having examined these available avenues I would
venture to say that there should be mass exodus from both LANL and
LLNL shortly before the contract date takes affect. Understanding how
callus DOE and NNSA can be, it is my hopes that this is exactly what
happens. I myself look forward to participate in this mass evacuation
of the premises.

As I have said many times before most people think that because the
UC won the contract they are going to remain a UC employee and that
it will be business as usual. I am sure that this is not the case. I
believe that all current LANL and LLNL employees will become "LLC"
employees, whereby all contribution to their UC retirement will
cease; and that they will have to start all over again unless they
retire. I am beginning to wonder how many out of the 12,000 employees
at LANL and the 8,000 employees at LLNL realize what is at jeopardy
or understand that they must find time to make plans for their future.

Having heard nothing about LANL's HR being swamped with request for
retirement applications my question is, does anyone that is age fifty
really want to hand over their retirement funds to the new
corporation so that they can do as they wish with them, taking the
chance of losing everything that they have worked for over the last
few decades. Are the people of these two facilities brain-dead or is
DOE and NNSA banking on their ignorance to prevail, in hopes that
you'll have enough qualified people to keep the doors open? I hope not.

And then finally you say that politics had no part in this fiasco,
but I have my doubts. If that be the case then why does rumor have it
that Michael Anastasio's new salary will be $1.3 a year whereby he
can retire at 100% his wage after five years of service? Now you tell
me that this is justified. No wonder he was bucking so hard for UC / Bechtel

Thanks again for your time.

Comments:
wow are you right! I have encountered so many LANL employees who think that the UC pension will continue even though it's been clearly stated that the LLC is STAND ALONE. It's NOT UC. As far as benefits go (as in WENT) it didn't matter who won. We have NO CLUE what the retirement will be or the medical benefits.... Hell we don't even know if the LLC will try to scale back holidays and vacation! Who knows?

Yet even today, people were going WHEW now we can keep our pensions! Unreal. Yes you can keep them, but that's about it..... You'll get a nice new 401K to fritter savings on....
 
The majority of people around me were disconcerted about the change to an LLC. Most of my peers (in their 30-somethings) are worried about the current trend of raids on retirement. It's clear that the LLC will not have the collective buying power that UCRP had. Regardless, UCRP is changing as well. UC handed more responsibility over to Fidelity, who hasn't done so well with the UC "managed" funds. My prediction is UCRP will approach a balanced funding level with employee contributions within 5 years.

So, most of us young folk realize the lucky baby boomers have it made. We'll retire without social security and likely without a measureable pension and health benefits.
 
Doesn't that say that it is time to bring in a union equal to the teamsters? I'd say you should all move on this issue rather quick or you will be absolutely correct in your assumptions. As you can see watching the news, corporate America is setting you up for a fall. Right on your butts with no hopes of early retirment. Unless of course you want to work until you are dead, "fdor the cause" which in this case is stockpile stewardship... NOT !!!
 
Well for what its worth UC did say that in their bid, should they win, they asked for the ability to continue (or closely approximate) the UCRP retirement for those already vested. This was asked as a possible exception to the RFP and would have to be granted by DOE/NNSA. I didn't hear this discussed at all in the Q&A section and probably is one of those things that will just have to wait during the "negotiations". Only time will tell. UCRP itself may not be all the attractive in the years ahead.

What is the data that Fidelity hasn't done so well with the UC "managed" funds? The time period is very short so far, so I'm not sure how one could draw such conclusions. The Fidelity program that UC has had over the years is very good, in my estimation.

For many the option of of a 401K instead of a defined benefit plan is more attractive, particularly since social security has no chance of being solvent many years out.
 
the word COMPARABLE has been used over and over in discussing benefits but has yet to be defined by any "bid" participants. A stand-alone organization with 12,000 employees and starting from ZERO isn't going to have much financial weight. So what's likely is a standard 401k that yoyos and offers little stability. A 401K is NOT a pension plan (based on salary, years of service, etc.), it's a risky tax-deferred savings fund and nothing more. And there's nothing saying the new LLC won't have a vesting schedule to boot!
 
"Doesn't that say that it is time to bring in a union equal to the teamsters?"

That would be just splendid. Then the rank-and-file could provoke our own Nanos-style shutdowns.
 
Nawww....bah humbug...of course they are not going to remain UC employees, even UC's website states's such.

"Under the terms of the LANL RFP issued May 19, 2005, eligible individuals employed at LANL will cease being UC employees, and will become employees of the LLC, on the effective date of the new contract if they accept offers of employment from the successor contractor. The LANL REF provides that the successor contractor will offer employment to all employees who are in good standing as of June 1, 2006 and have LANL career or term appointments, subject to the availability of funds."

http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/labcontract/faqs.html

Its restructuring and overhauling days at LANL..

The bLuelight specials are running rampant at LANL... grab your tushie before they grab that out from under you too....

See..

The Los Alamos National Laboratory FY2003-FY2008 Institutional Plan
136 pages

"The Los Alamos National Laboratory FY2003–FY2008 Institutional Plan is a document that
provides detailed information on the Laboratory’s current activities and a plan for work that will
be done in the next five years.".....

...."Furthermore, I believe that it is the first value, trustworthiness—above all—that underlies our
success as an institution. Our mission—ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear
deterrent, reducing the global threat of weapons of mass destruction, and solving national
problems in energy, environment, infrastructure, and health security—is of such moment that we
cannot accomplish it without a fundamental belief on the part of the American public and on the
part of our own employees that we are an institution to be trusted."...

...."Six Zeros
The six zeros state our goals in safety, security, environmental protection, and human relations.
They are as follows:
• Zero injuries and illnesses ON the job;
• Zero Safeguards and Security incidents;
• Zero injuries and illnesses OFF the job;
• Zero environmental incidents;
• Zero ethics incidents; and
• Zero people-mistreatment incidents."

...."Costs. We are not satisfied with our current costs of doing business. Our focus will be
on decreasing facilities costs, simplifying complex business systems and practices,
and reducing hidden costs."....

The staff is being chastised, degraded, and humilated and made to pay for the errors of a very few of the overseers...

However the true irony is that the overseers, UC, somehow still manages to continue on under the guise of a new business entity-- albeit an ala new flashy conglomerate...

Yet, the staff, naughty children that they are (sarcasm).... will continue to be punished for the past lack of procedures, protocols and mandates of the overseers.

BAU in the USA. Go figure....

The new contract term is also (max time) lengthy 20 years and ten months....


Terms

"The maximum Contract Term, including the transition term and award terms (if earned by the Contractor), shall not exceed 20 years, 10 months. The resulting contract will be administered through NNSA’s Los Alamos Site Office (LASO)."


Bluntness is evident in the 3 choices offered to employees

NNSA Briefing to LANL Employees 6-10-05

Section
Timing Of Decisions.

"Winner of the competition proposes a new compensation package for Transferring Employees
and submits equivalent Pension Plan One for NNSA Contracting Officer approval"

"Winner of the competition proposes a new compensation package for New Employess and submits
Pension Plan Two for NNSA Contracting Officer approval"

'60 day window during which current employees will have the opportunity to chose
which approach best fits their needs and plans (Mar 6 through Apr 06)"


Essentially--page six of this power point document lays out their
mindframe....



Go to page Nine to see a break down of

Pension Plan One

Go to page 10 for
Pension Plan Two (this covers
new employees and UCRP retiring employees hired by the contractor"



"Current LANL Employees have 3 Choices"

See the extensive pretty color coded which person are you (sarcasm) --chart on page 11

Transferring

UCRP Retiring Employee

Inactive Vested Transferring Employee


"Employes must exercise their option to retire or become an inactive vested participant of UCRP
by May 31, 2006." (p 12)


As to health care...

"Retiree health care will be provided by the successor (new) contractor.
See Clause H-36, paragraph (i) "Post Retirement Benefits." found on p 16

"UC Office of the President developed a fact sheet on UCRP pension benefits for lab employees. This fact sheet can be found on the web at fact sheet

Most of the vesting, versus
non vested issues, versus retiring as an employee questions are answered here
here

As to bringing in Unions.....good luck, New Mexico PAYS companies to come into the state to offer jobs that pay less in that state, then in other states.

AOL, Intel, Boeing, Motorolla and others were all PAID to come into the state to offer lower paying jobs in order to provide some sort of employment in the state.

And New Mexico is a Right to Work State...i.e. you can be terminated for zero reason and without cause.

Unions do not exist effectively in these states, not that I am aware of.

But who knows...

That adage...
Strength in numbers and all...

And we all know that the government direly needs the reclamation stockpiling research that LANL does..toss in that Bush is gung ho on research targeting nuclear bunker bomb busters....

Anything could happen....
 
Dear Secretary Bodman,

I personally think DOE has made the right choice by going with the lesser of two evils.

Surely, UC has been an absentee landlord and does bear considerable responsibility for the recent outrages at LANL (The bulk of the responsibility, I must add, lies with DOE/NNSA and, in particular, with people like Secretary Abraham, Deputy Secretary McSlarrow, and Ambassador Brooks).

Nevertheless, my colleagues and I were deeply concerned about the true motif behind LM’s seeking to manage the second of the New Mexico nuclear labs. Has the largest defense contractor really become that much interested in broad science, or could there have been motivations of another kind? The rate of publications at Sandia after LM took over its management certainly did not support the first possibility.

We became even more concerned after reading Paul Robinson’s stated goals to “to align the laboratory’s science programs to more closely support its missions” and his subsequent comment about "independent researcher" attitude being undesirable at LANL.

We’ll see what develops at LANL over the next several years, but it seems that science is not going to be disbanded (“realigned”) here in the immediate future. Thank you for that, and happy holidays.
 
Go Fish-
Except for the oldest Baby Boomers, we are in the same boat. I'll be 49 at the change of contract- so my retirement funds (or lack thereof)will migrate over to the LLC with yours. There's not a thing I can legally do about it.

The NEW contract may promise UCRP-like benefits, but where is the money coming from to back up the promises? IMHO, that is why we need a employee organization- No single person can bring a lawsuit if DOE promises fall short. But an employee organization (or union) has defined legal pension rights and can file a suit to protect the employees.

ps to Dug- A union doesn't have to strike and cause havoc. But it is a legal entity with access to the courts. I'm sorry- but I just don't trust anybody with 2 - 4 billion dollars of our money in their pockets. I want a few hired guns (say, accountants) on my side and I'm willing to pay a few dollars to an association to get them.
 
FYI:

New Mexico is not a "right to work" State. A "right to work" state is one that prevents unions from requiring union membership in order to work at a given work site. Union shops exist here and there throughout the state.
A "right to work" state is not one where you can be fired at will with out a reason. That would be an "at will" state, but none exist. Labor law is federal and prevents "at will" firing in most cases. LANL is not an "at will" employer. The contractors to LANL such as Wyrick,Plus Group, Comforce, are at will employers. There are laws governing which companies are "at will" and which ones aren't".
There is a movement afoot in the US today to diminish benefits for all workers, yes even Phds. That's what the New York transit strike and overseas outsourcing is all about. Businesses don't want to pay Social Security or contribute to pension plans. They don't want to pay for health care. They don't want to pay a living wage.
At one time American workers stuck together to protect each other. Oddly enough, this was during the depression when jobs were difficult to get. Now many American workers have come to see union membership is a sign of low social status and have quit resisting reductions of benefits such as are happening at LANL right now.
Until workers learn once again to stand up for themselves, these reductions will continue. Too bad. Luckily I am retired and am safe. For the rest of you, your fate is in your hands.
 
A lot of criticism of the change-over relating to benefits has been brushed aside by the words "substantially equivalent" in the RFP when referring to the new benefits package offered by the LLC. It has not been made clear to me that "substantially equivalent" also includes the stability and historical success of UCRP. No brand-spanking-new retirement system will gain this pedigree for decades so it is inherently NOT equivalent, substantial or otherwise. Corporate retirement systems do not play by the same rules as a UCRP. Our new retirement system might hire former NM State treasurer Robert Vigil to expertly manage our money. It also has not been made clear to me that "substantially equivalent" guarantees equivalency or similarity over the seven year contract period or just at the time the LLC takes over. If we take their word on benefits being equivalent, how long do they have to keep them that way and how long before they start reducing benefits to make them more like Pantex? Anyone with more than 15 years in UCRP would be wise to consider the yet-to-be-determined answers to these questions before stepping up to the roulette wheel of the LLC retirement offering. Remember, this whole bid process was about only one thing - money (not security and obviously not management). With all the extra costs this LLC circus will incur from sales taxes and oversight, the only revenue source I see remaining to be tapped in the next seven years is through employee benefit reductions.
 
I inversely pulled the terms out of
my head backwards---pardon, my bad...oops, or maybe that was my foot...
either way....let me attempt to extract my foot from my mouth here.....

" That would be an "at will" state, but none exist. "
"Labor law is federal and prevents "at will" firing in most cases. " Long Gone said...


According to our Fed and State Statutes,
and the prevailing case law/legal rulings, statements akin to these would not jive with the current stats, regs, and case law.


Going back to my original point that I was making, albeit I pulled the wrong term out of my head for some reason....stats and regs for such are below.

Redheads.....geesh.....right.....

Anyhow ...

New Mexico Judicial Court Rules does allow for both judicial and
jury Instructions for "At Will Cases"

Why? Because NM and almost
all states are indeed "AT Will EMPLOYERS".

Not ALL, but MOST all...

There are just some wee outs, three little rules, in most states, although most states do not allow the action of all three rules when a claim is filed under such grounds. It varies from state to state, like anything else.


New Mexico Statutes and Court Rules

New Mexico Statutes and Court Rules/Contents of Judicial Volumes/Uniform Jury Instructions — Civil /CHAPTER 23 Wrongful Discharge /13-2301. Employment at will; general rule.

13-2301. Employment at will; general rule.

"An employment relationship calling only for performance of work and payment of wages is an "employment at will". A person employed at will may be discharged at any time for any reason or for no reason at all, unless an exception to this rule applies. An exception to this rule exists if the discharge is in violation of [an implied agreement] [public policy] [or] [a statute]."

"DIRECTIONS FOR USE

This instruction must be given in every case involving a claim of wrongful discharge based upon breach of an implied employment agreement. If an issue of employment at will exists, it should also be given in cases involving claims of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy or in violation of a statute. It should not be given where the sole issue to be submitted is whether, or where the court has determined as a matter of law that, there is an express employment contract for a definite term or one that permits discharge only for cause or only by following certain prescribed procedures. This instruction should be followed by UJI 13-2302 through 13-2305 and related instructions, as appropriate.

From
US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

"The employment-at-will doctrine:
three major exceptions
In the United States, employees without a written
employment contract generally can be fired
for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all;
judicial exceptions to the rule seek
to prevent wrongful terminations"
Charles J. Muhl "Employment at Will"
"Monthly Labor Review" p 1 January 2001



EEO and discrimination, Title VII, ADEA, IRCA, --ad nauseam-- are the main forms of protection
offered under the "we got you babe" FEDERAL guises,...
Equal Employment Opportunity
however.... there are just not any "special" labor guarantees.


>OFCCP Laws & Regulations


"The 1960s
marked the beginning of Federal legislative protections
(including Title VII of the 1964 Civil
Rights Act) from wrongful discharge based on
race, religion, sex, age, and national origin.3"
Charles J. Muhl "Employment at Will"
"Monthly Labor Review" p 3 January 2001


Even the exempts heralding to the
Public-policy exception is applicable to a state entity, rarely to a federal entity and

"Seven States have rejected the public-policy exception in
its entirety: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska,
New York, and Rhode Island.Charles J. Muhl "Employment at Will"
"Monthly Labor Review" p 6 January 2001


The states that have enabled legal grounds and have had
rulings favorable for the lack of just cause/contract---
have "outs" for employees, ---somewhat circumstantially

"Employers can prevent written assurances
from creating an implied contract by including a clear and
unambiguous disclaimer characterizing those assurances as
company policies that do not create contractual obligations."
Charles J. Muhl "Employment at Will"
"Monthly Labor Review" p 8,9 January 2001


Then there is the "Covenant-of-good-faith exception" , used in only 11 states.

"The vast majority of courts have rejected reading such an
implied covenant into the employment relationship."
Charles J. Muhl "Employment at Will"
"Monthly Labor Review" p 10 January 2001


Even in the

LANL Policy material

there only seems to exist, the normally stated
fed's obligation's, the EO material.



OFCCP Compliance Manual

Chapter 1—General
"Wrongful Discharge"

Generally, unlawful employment termination. The phrase "wrongful discharge" is frequently used to refer to exceptions created by the courts in some states to the employment at will doctrine (see above). Courts in such states differ in the circumstances in which they will allow wrongful discharge suits challenging a termination. State law on this issue is not of direct concern to OFCCP. The Executive Order, Section 503, 38 U.S.C. §4212 and implementing regulations prohibit termination based on a prohibited factor."

In New Mexico, one is not EVEN guaranteed breaks, lunches, or vacations.

NM Dept of Labor

Q. Does an employer have to give lunch breaks, coffee breaks or rest periods?

A. No. There is no statute that requires an employer to provide such breaks; however, deductions cannot be made from wages if less than 30 minutes is allowed for the breaks.


Q. Does an employer have to pay Holiday, Vacation, Sick or Severance pay?

A. No. There is no statute that requires an employer to pay such wages


Where were these special rules when LANL laid off the 98 Hispanics during a reduction
work force cut and the Hispanics sued based only on a Federal Case Merits; the EO- their race-and on those grounds, not on any other grounds?

What if they had not been Hispanic?
What then?

"OFCCP made an initial finding that Los Alamos failed to follow its own layoff criteria, which resulted in Hispanic employees being terminated at a statistically significant higher rate."


And contracts, implied, written,...all those goodies...these are subject to the
whims of the 3 rules as mentioned above....
because almost all states
are subject to some form of the At Will Employment Regs....

But, "At-Will Employment Turning Back the Clock " explicitly deems to mention New Mexico in relation to the "at will employment" and the adverse ruling of the California; Guz v. Bechtel...

"With the opinion, California joins such states as Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, and Idaho, where longevity and a policy of warning before discharge are insufficient evidence to infer an implied contract."

Linking the two....


and Lexis-Nexis,
"Employment At Will"
certainly not the last word on this---but their site explains how even a contractual basis and "at will" stance goes along together in NM....


"In the majority of states, employees not working under an employment contract are deemed to be “at will.” At-will employees may be terminated for any reason, so long as it’s not illegal. Similarly, an employee is free to leave his or her job at any time for any reason.

The general rule in New Mexico is that an employment contract is for an indefinite period and is terminable at the will of either party unless there is an express contractual provision that states something different. There are two recognized exceptions in New Mexico to the employment at will rule:

Discharge in violation of public policy
Implied contract of employment, which limits discharge to “for cause” or pursuant to a particular set of procedures"



And if the new contractor is really concerned about security at LANL....then ....your EO rights are not entirely what everyone else's would be.....

EPPA exempts any federal, state, and or local governments, and or political subdivisions of any state and or local governments. EPPA, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, so LANL employees are certainly not protected by this provision....and any and or all employees could be
subject to any of their whims and fancies under the name of security enhancements.

But everyone wants LANL to be secure...

Right....

But, the matter is seemingly already laid out, and the LANL employees and their contracts--whatever they may or not be-- are not considered to be an issue or a concern of the new contract holders.

And those employed at LANL would not even be government employees any longer....as the solicitation terms propose...

"Persons employed by the Contractor shall be and remain employees of the Contractor and shall not be deemed employees of the NNSA or the Government;"

"SUBJECT: Contract No. DE-AC52-06AL25396, Request For Subcontract Placement Approval."

H36 in the Solicitation pretty seems to state it all

which can be found at

Part 1 The Schedule


H-36 WORKFORCE TRANSITION, CONTRACTOR COMPENSATION, BENEFITS AND PENSION

(a) Personnel Appendix

(1) This Clause and the Contract Section J Appendix entitled “Personnel Appendix” are adopted for the exclusive benefit and convenience of the Parties hereto; nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any right of action or any other right or benefit upon past, present, or future employees of the Contractor, or upon any other third party. The Personnel Appendix reflects NNSA’s minimum Contractor human resources requirements. Changes, if any, will be made to the Personnel Appendix through a Reimbursement Authorization. Personnel costs and related expenses incurred in accordance with the Personnel Appendix shall be allowable to the extent indicated therein. "

(2) Definitions

(i) “Transferring Employees” are those employees who transfer from employment with the predecessor contractor to employment with the Contractor within six (6) months after June 1, 2006 and without a break in their employment at LANL.

(ii) “Inactive Vested Transferring Employees” are transferring employees who do not elect to retire under the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP) prior to June 1, 2006 and who remain vested participants as “inactive members” of the UCRP.

(iii) “UCRP Retiring Employees” are employees of the predecessor contractor who elect to retire under the UCRP prior to June 1, 2006.

(iv) “New Employees” are those employees hired by the Contractor on or after June 1, 2006, who are not Transferring Employees.

"Contract Clauses H-2 through H-10 provide a mechanism for the Contractor to improve its management and performance. The Laboratory’s management systems that exist on the date of Contract award will continue until the Contractor addresses the applicable requirements contained in Contract Clauses H-2 through H-10. For changes that do require NNSA approval, the Contractor will not implement a change until it is formally approved by the Contracting Officer."

"H-17 CONTRACTOR EMPLOYEES

In carrying out the work under this Contract, the Contractor shall be responsible for the employment of all professional, technical, skilled, and unskilled personnel engaged by the Contractor in the work hereunder, and for the training of personnel. Persons employed by the Contractor shall be and remain employees of the Contractor and shall not be deemed employees of the NNSA or the Government; however, nothing herein shall require the establishment of any employer-employee relationship between the Contractor and consultants or others whose services are utilized by the Contractor for the work hereunder."


Employee Retention

(1) Subject to the availability of funds, the Contractor shall offer employment to all employees of the predecessor contractor who as of June 1, 2006 are in good standing and have LANL “Career” or “Term” appointments as described in the LANL Human Resources Administrative Manual, except as set forth in subparagraph (b)(2) below. Subsequently, the Contractor shall exercise appropriate managerial judgment regarding employee retention and job assignments. p 36

(2) The Contractor is not required to offer employment to those employees assigned to the predecessor contractor’s key personnel positions or to other senior management positions that report directly to the predecessor contractor’s laboratory director as reflected in the Contract’s Section J Appendix entitled “Listing of Predecessor Contractor Senior Management Positions.” In addition, the Contractor is not required to offer employment to UCRP Retiring Employees. The Contractor may offer employment to these categories of employees at its sole discretion. "

next excerpt

"For Inactive vested transferring employees, Pension Plan Two shall recognise service earned under the UCRP for purposes of determining eligibility and vesting under pension plan two, but shall not recognize their prior service for calculation of benefits."

"UCRP retiring employees hired under this contract shall NOT receive credit under Pension plan Two for service under the predecessor contract"


There is a lengthy section discussing pension plan terminations and 60 day warnings.

also of note

"The Contractor will be rewarded for the achievement of cost efficiencies through investment of cost savings at the Laboratory and through Contractor Directed Research and Development and the opportunity to earn additional Contract term."

But then there is modification/questionairre type document as well, also mentioning
the retirees, and their status..

so much dancing around....


"Should an eligible LANL employee elect to become an inactive member by leaving the employ of UC, then that individual forfeits his right of employment and must seek employment under the new contract as a “new employee”."

Pension Benefits for Current Employees

Let's hope for ALL that it changes....in more ways than one...
and not for only a FEW....

"Coercion comes in many shapes and forms for example; loss of job opportunities/career path, lower salaries based on subjective job performance, character assassination, humiliation, isolation, blacklisting and ultimately the filing of a grievance which normally leads to costly litigation where the Lab is graciously supported by a bottomless pit of money. Everybody knows the Golden Rule He who has the gold rulesis very appropriate when it comes to the Lab." Testimony of Manuel Trujillo, UPTE - Los Alamos
Subject: UC Oversight Committee testimony


We don't need to have more stories like Manuel Trujillo's.....
 
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