This page is set up to provide updates to Teamsters 117 members who worked at UNFI's warehouse in Tacoma and were unlawfully laid off by the company. Our Union is defending an Arbitration Award that UNFI is challenging in federal court.
Our goal is to fight the Company in court and uphold the Arbitrator's Award that allowed members to transfer to Centralia with the same wages and benefits that they had in Tacoma. When there are developments in the case or other news that impacts Teamster families, we will post it here.
To receive updates via text message, text "Teamsters FUNFI" to 313131. Please understand that the litigation process is a lengthy one and there may be several weeks between updates. If you have questions, please post them in the comments below understanding that our legal team is busy and will answer them when their schedule allows.
UNFI NEWS TICKER
August 2, 2022
Another win and a big step towards justice!!! This morning Judge King entered the attached order substantively granting the unions’ motion for summary judgment and denying UNFI’s cross-motion. Judge King upheld Arbitrator Duffy’s award, rejecting UNFI’s argument that the award exceeded the arbitrator’s authority or violated the NLRA. King’s reasoning is thorough and tracks the arguments we made to her on these issues, so we’re confident this decision provides a strong defense against UNFI’s potential appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
The decision orders the parties, as a next step, to submit a joint status report as to discovery on the damages phase of the case.
Th Union is actively working on next steps and will have additional updates on what is to come. Congratulations on a HUGE win!
June 27, 2022
We will be holding an update meeting over Zoom on July 16, 2022 at 9 a.m. You must register in advance to attend! To register, please click here.
April 28, 2022
Our Union’s legal battles with UNFI continue to move toward resolution.
The Fifth Circuit in the federal court system has scheduled oral arguments for June 6 on the NLRB’s withdrawal of its complaint against the Union.
There are two issues at stake that the Court will consider. The first is whether President Biden lawfully removed former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb from office. Since the Fifth Circuit recently ruled in a separate case that Robb’s removal was indeed lawful, that issue appears to be settled in our favor.
The other issue is whether the NLRB’s interpretation of its procedural rules was correct involving a motion filed by UNFI. We believe that the NLRB acted correctly in denying UNFI’s appeal, and we are hopeful that the Court will lay that issue to rest.
April 27, 2022
Yesterday our Union’s legal team presented oral argument over the cross-motions for summary judgment in federal court before Judge King. Our team was well-prepared for the court appearance and made a strong, convincing case. UNFI’s lead attorney seemed to struggle to directly answer some of the Judge’s questions. The Judge indicated that she’d have a written decision “soon” – we’re hoping in the next couple of weeks. Although we can’t be certain of the outcome, we are cautiously optimistic that the Judge will rule to confirm our Arbitration Award. As soon as the Judge issues her opinion, we will let you know. Thank you for your incredible patience throughout this process. It has been a long haul to get to this point, but we believe we are an important step closer to a favorable resolution of the case.
April 12, 2022
Our call to the Judge’s chambers last week may have helped move this fight forward! Judge King has scheduled oral argument for April 26 on the cross-motions for summary judgment. This is great news and puts us one step closer to justice!
April 8, 2022
Our Union’s legal counsel reached out to Judge King’s chambers to inquire about the status of our case in federal District Court and to urge the judge to rule on the pending cross-motions in an attempt to impress on her the amount of time this case has been sitting on the docket and that the cross-motions have been pending.
The judge’s clerk said the case is on her radar but would not provide a timeline for issuing an order. Our hope is that our pressure will have an effect, but there is no guarantee. Although an order could issue any day, it’s possible we’ll be playing the waiting game for a while longer.
As we have said from the beginning, the legal process is very slow, and we anticipate a series of appeals…but we will see this fight through to the end and we will continue to update you with any new developments.
February 23, 2022
Last week, the NLRB filed its brief in the Fifth Circuit case defending Biden’s removal of former NLRB General Counsel Robb and its decision to withdraw the Complaint against the Union. We filed our brief on Tuesday.
As for the US District Court case on whether to confirm the Arbitrator’s award, we are waiting for the Judge's decision on our cross motions for summary judgment. There is no definitive timeline for the decision to issue. We will let you know of any future developments.
January 21, 2022
As we anticipated, the Department of Justice requested reconsideration of its motion to intervene in the Fifth Circuit case to defend Biden’s removal of NLRB’s former General Counsel Peter Robb which was denied on December 22. The Court did grant the NLRB’s request for a 30-day extension to file its brief in the case; the NLRB’s brief is now due February 14, 2022. Although this update doesn’t have much impact in our case, it is meant to keep you informed as promised.
December 6, 2021
On December 2, the Fifth Circuit denied the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Motion to Intervene (defending President Biden’s removal of the former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb) as untimely. The DOJ will likely request reconsideration of the ruling. We will keep you updated on the progress.
October 28, 2021
The Department of Justice may be moving to intervene in the case to defend President Biden’s removal of the anti-union, former General Counsel of the NLRB, Peter Robb. We will keep you updated on the impact this will have on our case.
The courts have set the deadline for UNFI to file its brief defending its position to overturn the Arbitrator’s Award for November 30. The NLRB’s brief will be due 30 days later, and our Union’s brief seeking to uphold the Award will be due seven days after that. With the holidays approaching, the courts may extend consideration of the case until the beginning of next year. Please stay tuned.
September 14, 2021
Your Union filed its motion for summary judgment in federal court, asking the court to enter an order confirming the arbitrator’s award. UNFI filed its own motion for summary judgment, asking the court to set aside the arbitrator’s award. The briefings have been filed with the court, and the matter is now in Judge Jones’ hands for decision.
You can view the recent court filings below:
- Union's opposition to UNFI's MSJ
- UNFI's opposition to Union's MSJ
- Union's reply to MSJ
- UNFI's reply to MSJ
Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy is committed to you all - no matter how long it takes. 117 isn’t going to lay down! This fight is personal and has far-reaching effects on your families, the industry, and our retirees.
July 20, 2021
Great news! Judge Jones lifted the stay on proceeding in federal court on our claims against UNFI and set a schedule for filing summary judgment motions. Our motion is due August 13.
We are scheduling a meeting soon for you to talk to the attorneys and ask any questions. Date and time will be sent to you soon.
July 20, 2021
On July 2, UNFI filed a petition for review of the Board’s rejection of UNFI’s claim that the Regional Director wasn’t permitted to withdraw the Complaint and finding that the Regional Director’s order is not reviewable by the Board. UNFI filed the petition in the Fifth Circuit (possibly the most conservative court in the country).
On July 6, UNFI filed a Motion to Reinstate the Stay before Judge Jones in light of UNFI’s Petition for Review of the Board’s decision.
Today, we are filing an Opposition to UNFI’s Motion to Reinstate the Stay.
July 6, 2021
UNFI filed a Motion to Reinstate the Stay before Judge Jones in light of UNFI’s Petition for Review of the Board’s decision.
July 2, 2021
UNFI filed a petition for review of the Board’s rejection of UNFI’s claim that the Regional Director wasn’t permitted to withdraw the Complaint and finding that the Regional Director’s order is not reviewable by the Board. UNFI filed the petition in the Fifth Circuit (possibly the most conservative court in the country).
June 30, 2021
Another win for Teamsters!!! Once the Acting General Counsel for the NLRB sent out a status report denying UNFI’s flimsy appeal, Judge Jones, our assigned Judge in federal court, has lifted the stay on federal proceedings.
This is an important victory because it removes the pause on the court proceedings allowing us to resume our fight and move forward. Our legal team is busy preparing to refile a motion for summary judgement asking Judge Jones to find UNFI liable for breaching our CBA and enforce the arbitration award. UNFI’s greed is pushing them further into litigation, but all they reap is defeat. Stay strong, Teamsters!
June 24, 2021
The Acting General Counsel for the NLRB issued a decision denying UNFI’s appeal to the Board.
Although we expect UNFI to file a meritless appeal of that decision, your Union has moved forward to reactivate the federal case where we are seeking enforcement of Arbitrator Duffy’s decision and award.
Judge Jones, our assigned Judge in federal court, had stayed the federal proceedings pending resolution of UNFI’s charges against your Union. With those charges completely dismissed, your Union’s legal counsel has filed supplemental authority seeking to remove the stay and have Judge Jones act in our enforcement action.
Despite the fact that UNFI has decidedly lost at the NLRB, we expect them to continue to deny their contractual obligations and continue to fight the Arbitrator’s decision. As we’ve demonstrated time and time again, your Union will never give up until justice has been served.
May 11, 2021
Great news! UNFI’s underhanded attempt to appeal the Acting General Counsel’s decision in our favor to the full NLRB has failed. In a stinging defeat to UNFI, the Board ruled today that it did not have jurisdiction over the case. UNFI is now waiting on a flimsy appeal to the Acting General Counsel’s office, which it filed on March 12. If this appeal fails as we expect it will, we believe the case will ultimately return and be resolved in the federal courts where we will get a determination on the merits of our claim to enforce the arbitration award. Our position in this fight continues to improve. Stay tuned!
April, 26 2021
As you know, the Acting General Counsel of the NLRB dismissed UNFI’s unfair labor practice claim against the Union. However, in true UNFI fashion, it has attempted to end run Acting General Counsel Orr by appealing directly to the full labor relations board and asking it to assume jurisdiction over the case. The Board has not yet issued any determination with respect to UNFI’s appeal.
In anticipation of the Board rejecting UNFI’s appeal, Local 117’s outside legal team is busy preparing for renewal of the Federal Court proceedings where we will finally get a determination on the merits of our claim to enforce the arbitration award.
We will update you as soon as the NLRB responds to UNFI’s ridiculous appeal.
February 24, 2021
UNFI CHARGE AGAINST 117 DISMISSED!
The Unfair Labor Practice charge that UNFI filed with the NLRB claiming that Arbitrator Duffy’s Arbitration Award violated the National Labor Relations Act was dismissed today by the Acting General Counsel!!!!!
As we have discussed, we are expecting that UNFI will continue to be extremely litigious and continue arguing that President Biden did not have authority to fire former NLRB General Counsel Robb.
In the meantime, we will refocus our energy on getting the stay lifted in the federal case. This is a huge victory…we’ve won rounds one and two and we are committed to fighting and winning the entire fight!
February 2, 2021
Law 360, a media outlet that reports on legal issues, has published a piece about the recent request our Teamsters 117 legal team made to the new Acting General Counsel of the NLRB to withdraw UNFI's complaint against the Union.
You can read the article below:
January, 29, 2021
On Friday, January 29, 2021 we sent the following letter to NLRB Acting General Counsel Ohr to request review and reconsideration:
Dear Acting General Counsel Ohr,
Teamsters Locals 117 and 313 request reconsideration of the decision to issue a complaint in Case 19-CB-250856. As more fully explained in the Unions’ position statements in this matter (enclosed), this case stems from the Unions’ attempt to enforce language in their CBAs providing that if the company moved operations, employees would be allowed to transfer to a new location under the same terms and conditions of employment.
As more fully described in the Union’s position statements and briefing in the related federal court case(attached), the Board has had several occasions to address challenges to attempts to enforce contractual transfer rights like the ones at issue here, on the grounds UNFI advances here. The parties’ summary judgment briefing in Case No. 2:19-CV-01736-RAJ is particularly instructive in showcasing the ways in which the theories advanced by former General Counsel Robb reflect a radical departure from existing NLRB and federal court authority. That briefing walks through NLRB cases considering and rejecting the same legal challenges UNFI advances here (See Unions’ MSJ at pp. 13-14). UNFI’s summary judgment motion and opposition to the Unions’ motion are particularly noteworthy because they showcase the absence of on-point NLRB authority that supports the theories advanced in the Complaint. See Unions’ Response to UNFI’s Motion for Summary Judgment at pp. 12-19, discussing and distinguishing the cases relied upon by UNFI.
The pendency of this unfair labor practice charge against the Unions continues to cause real harm to workers who have been wronged by UNFI. Approximately 280 workers were laid off and denied the opportunity to transfer to the Centralia facility. Some of them have been out of work for almost two years, despite the fact that an arbitrator issued an award in October 2019 finding that UNFI is violating the CBA by denying them the right to transfer at their old rate of wages and benefit levels. A federal judge has rejected UNFI’s argument that the Unions are engaging in any type of representational conduct and has instead held that “the Unions have made no attempt to represent any employees at the Centralia facility,” and instead, “[t]he Unions have argued only that a term within CBAs—to which UNFI and the Tacoma facility employees are parties—provides an explicit extension of contractual rights to covered Tacoma facility employees who move to another location.” However, after Counsel for the General Counsel filed an amicus brief, Judge Jones stayed the federal case, preventing the Unions from being able to take any action to assist their members who are suffering because of UNFI’s blatant disregard of its contractual commitment to allow workers of a facility that closes to transfer.
This case involves an attempt to aggressively move the law in a direction favored by General Counsel Robb, to the benefit of corporate interests and the detriment of workers. Teamsters Local 117 and 313 respectfully request reconsideration of the decision to issue a complaint in this matter. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the case further, or to address any questions the General Counsel’s office may have about the issues in this case.
Danielle Franco-Malone & Ben Berger Counsel for Teamsters Locals 117 and 313
We will post an update as soon as we receive a response to our request.
January 21, 2021
Good news! President Biden has fired the anti-worker, anti-Union NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, and we are waiting to see who will be appointed as acting General Counsel. (See our International Union's statement on the firing here.) This can only improve our chances at the upcoming hearing on the ULP charges scheduled for March 2021.
In case you still had any doubt, this proves that elections really do matter!
December 1, 2020
We will be holding an update meeting this Saturday, December 5 at 10am over Zoom. Please register in advance to attend the meeting. You can register for the meeting here. Our outside legal counsel, together with Local 117 General Counsel Tracey Thompson, will give an update on the status of the litigation, UNFI's Unfair Labor Practice charge, and the judge's recent order. They will also be available to answer your questions.
November 16, 2020
We just heard from Judge Jones that he has granted UNFI’s motion to reconsider his decision not to stay the federal court case pending the outcome of the ULP charges UNFI filed against us. This is an unexpected and extremely disappointing outcome. Our Legal team is considering the strategic value of requesting reconsideration of his decision.
The hearing on the ULP charges is scheduled for March 2021.
We will continue to keep you updated.
November 3, 2020
Our Union's outside legal counsel contacted Judge Jones' chambers and spoke with the clerk about when we could expect the Judge's order on our motion for summary judgement.
We were told that the motion is still pending and that we will be notified as soon as the Judge issues an order. We will communicate any developments with the group immediately upon receipt.
October 30, 2020
The Union is still waiting for Judge Jones to rule on our motion for summary judgment. We will communicate with you all as soon as that decision comes down.
November 2 will be 45 days from the date the motion was noted for consideration. The local rules and Judge Jones’ chamber rules allow us to make an inquiry at that time. We will follow up on November 2 if we haven't received notification of the judge's decision.
October 6, 2020
On September 18, your Union and UNFI filed their replies to the other party’s Motion for Summary Judgment in the federal court case.
We are now awaiting the Judge’s ruling on the summary judgment motions. If the Judge rules in the Union’s favor, then it will have determined that UNFI is liable for breaching our CBA. The next phase of the lawsuit would be a determination of the amount of damages UNFI must pay.
There is no doubt, however, that if the Union wins on liability, UNFI will file an appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Their goal will be to tie up the federal court case while the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) matters are determined by the NLRB.
On the ULP side, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel filed an amendment to the relief sought in the Unfair Labor Practice complaint issued by the Board against the Union. The General Counsel now seeks an order to require the Union to withdraw its opposition to UNFI’s efforts to overturn Arbitrator Duffy’s award in federal court.
Our chances of ultimately prevailing on your behalf directly hinges on whether there is a change in the current Presidential administration. If the members of the NLRB, including the General Counsel, don’t change - and they won’t if we don’t elect a new President - then it is certain that the NLRB will do everything in its power to make sure UNFI wins.
August 26, 2020
On Monday, as ordered by Judge Jones, both UNFI and your Union filed Motions for Summary Judgment in the federal court case.
Additionally, the National Labor Relations Board filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief, urging the Judge to reconsider his ruling denying UNFI’s motion to stay the federal court proceedings pending the outcome of the NLRB proceedings. It is unclear whether the Court will even consider this brief because the court rules don’t specifically allow such amicus briefs during this stage of proceedings. The NLRB’s attempt to intervene in the federal court proceedings demonstrates just how much of an ally the board is to UNFI. Once we know whether Judge Jones will consider the NRLB’s amicus brief, we will update you.
The next step in the Motion for Summary Judgment proceedings before Judge Jones is for each side to file their opposition to the other’s Motion for Summary Judgment. We will provide those to you when they are filed in a few weeks.
July 27, 2020
You can read Federal District Court Judge Richard Jones' Order denying UNFI's motion to stay the proceedings here.
July 24, 2020
Exciting new developments! The Judge in the federal court case denied UNFI’s motion to stay the proceedings until the NLRB decides the charges UNFI filed against the Union. The Judge said that this matter is contractual and NOT representational, so he has primary jurisdiction to decide whether to uphold or vacate the arbitration award.
Judge Jones also issued a scheduling order that requires the Union and the Company to file cross-motions for summary judgment by August 20. The motions will be noted for hearing on September 18.
Here’s the Judge’s docket text:
SCHEDULING ORDER signed by Judge Richard A. Jones. Having denied Plaintiff's  Motion for Temporary Stay Pending Resolution of NLRB Charge, and having considered the parties'  Joint Status Report, the Court adopts the parties' agreement to bifurcate this matter with the Court to make a determination on liability and then consider the issue of damages only if liability is determined in favor of the Unions. Deadline to join additional parties is 10/23/2020. On the issue of liability, the parties shall file cross-motions for summary judgment no later than 8/24/2020, opposition briefs shall be filed no later than 9/14/2020, reply briefs shall be filed no later than 9/18/2020, and the cross-motions shall be noted for 9/18/2020. If the Court finds for the Unions on the issue of liability, the Court will set an 120-day deadline for the parties to complete discovery relating to damages, as well as other pretrial deadlines. (VE)
July 10, 2020
As anticipated and discussed in our Zoom meeting on June 20th, we have received the notification from the NLRB that they will be issuing a complaint against the Union based on UNFI’s charges. The complaint will be issued after the Board makes settlement attempts. Once issued, we will file our answer to the complaint and a hearing will be scheduled. We will keep you posted as soon as we have more information.
June 18, 2020
On Saturday, June 20 at 10:30am, we will have an online update meeting from our outside legal counsel on the arbitration. Our Union's attorneys in the case will be available to answer your questions. To attend the meeting, you must register in advance. Please click on the link to register: UNFI Arbitration Discussion – Saturday, June 20 @ 10:30am
May 26, 2020
On Thursday, May 21, our Union's legal team, together with outside legal counsel, had a conference call with the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board and the attorney for the NLRB's Division of Advice. On that call, our legal team responded to a series of questions related to the Arbitration Award. You can read the questions and our answers to issues raised on the call in a document prepared by our legal team here.
We will be setting up a meeting on Zoom, an online video conferencing platform, for Union members who have been impacted by the case. In that meeting, you will have the opportunity to discuss issues related to the case with our Union's legal team. As soon as that meeting is scheduled, we will let you know.
May 16, 2020
On Thursday, May 14, our Union submitted a motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and our Proposed Order, asking the federal judge to uphold our arbitration award. This coming Thursday, May 21, our Union's legal team, supported by outside legal counsel, has a conference call with the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board and the attorney for the NLRB's Division of Advice. On that call, we will be discussing UNFI's Unfair Labor Practice charges claiming that the award violated the National Labor Relations Act. We will updated you after our conversation with the NLRB next week.
April 29, 2020
Background: UNFI filed two actions to avoid complying with Arbitrator Duffy’s arbitration award, which determined that Tacoma employees had transfer rights and the right to continue working for the same wages and benefits at the Centralia facility. It filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the NLRB claiming that the arbitration award violated the National Labor Relations Act. It also filed a federal lawsuit (Case Number: 2:19-cv-01736-RAJ) seeking to overturn the arbitration award.
Region 19 of the National Labor Relations Board has sent UNFI's unfair labor practice charges to the Division of Advice to decide whether to move forward with the case.
Meanwhile, UNFI asked the federal judge in the federal case to "stay" (e.g. pause) the federal action while the NLRB case played out. We opposed that motion and are waiting for the judge to rule.
Update: Your Union continues to reach out to the attorneys at the Division of Advice to weigh in at that level but so far have not been able to reach anyone and it is unclear if the Division of Advice's office is open during the COVID-19 crisis.
In the federal court case, we are preparing a motion for summary judgment, asking the federal judge to "confirm" the arbitration award. We plan to have our motion fully prepared and submitted by May 14, 2020. We will update this thread once that motion is filed.
April 2, 2020
In an effort to keep you all updated on the processing of the litigation, we contacted the court for a status update today. The only new information is that the motion for stay that was filed on 1/24/2020 is in Judge Jones' queue. The court was not able to provide a time frame for a decision. As we have shared before, this is a slow legal process that is presumably further delayed by the staffing and priority case load in relation to the COVID-19 crisis. Although this update does not include any major development, we have been asked by the membership and we have committed to provide regular updates no matter how big or small.
March 13, 2020
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the meeting at our Union Hall in Tukwila on March 21 has been cancelled until further notice. Please stay healthy and safe!
March 5, 2020
As you know, UNFI filed actions in both Federal Court and at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Union to challenge Arbitrator’s Duffy’s award. In the Federal Court action, UNFI filed a motion to stay (put on hold) those proceedings until the NLRB ruled on their charges. We suspect that the Company's motives for filing the motion to stay are to continue to block your rights under the Award and to slow down the process as much as possible. The judge has not yet ruled on that motion. As soon as we hear from the judge, we will let you know.
At the regional NLRB office (region 19), our Union’s outside legal team filed a supplemental position statement a few weeks ago. Our statement provides a good overview of our main arguments in the case and request that the Board dismiss UNFI's charges. To inform yourself, please take some time to review this document. Since then, the regional office has been unable to make a determination about UNFI’s charges (likely for political reasons) and has submitted the charges to the NLRB General Counsel (a Trump appointee) for “advice”. We suspect the General Counsel's "advice" will be to push these charges to hearing. We are preparing for this outcome. Stay tuned for more information.
February 10, 2020
UNFI has filed a motion to stay proceedings in federal court. They are asking the Judge to stay (which means stop processing) the proceedings in federal court until the NLRB proceedings are concluded. We are filing our objection to that motion today, and the hearing on the motion is Friday.
January 13, 2020
As many of you know, our Union filed and won and Arbitration Award related to the transfer of work to Centralia. Unfortunately, UNFI has refused honor the Arbitration decision and has instead filed appeals with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and in Federal Court. The following updates are related to the litigation over UNFI’s appeal:
Although litigation is slow-moving, we are committed to keeping you updated with posts and text alerts as we progress through this process. To receive a text that an update has been posted, please text “Teamsters FUNFI” to 313131. If you have questions, please post them in the comments below understanding that our legal team is busy and will answer them when their schedule allows.
January 3, 2020
As many of you know, our Union filed numerous Unfair Labor Practice charges (ULP’s) with the National Labor Relations Board over the last year alleging that UNFI engaged in interference, disparaging communications, surveillance, unilateral changes and more. Although these charges are unrelated to the Arbitration and the ongoing litigation over the award (appeal), we feel it is important to keep you updated on the progress:
As mentioned above, UNFI is mandated to mail you a letter setting forth UNFI’s legal obligations to its employees under the National Labor Relations Act. We expect that letter to be mailed out within the next week or two. This letter will not require any further action from you. Although this may seem insignificant, it marks another Teamster win against this employer that couldn’t be possible without the involvement and testimony of many of you.
We have asked our legal team to draft an update related to the litigation over the Arbitration award and the appeal process. We intend on providing that update soon.
Teamsters 117 establishes the UNFI Hardship Fund designed to assist members from UNFI's Tacoma facility who are experiencing extreme financial hardship as a result of being unlawfully laid off by UNFI. If you are a UNFI member who worked at the Tacoma facility and you are facing financial hardship, please apply for assistance here.
October 7, 2019
Arbitrator Joseph Duffy rules unequivocally for the Union stating that members of Teamsters 117 shall be allowed to transfer to Centralia under the same terms and conditions that they have in Tacoma. View the Arbitration Award here.
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