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Thread: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

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    Default Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Last Monday and Tuesday, between 13-20 bus drivers for the Greenville Public School District — some of the lowest paid employees in one of the most under-resourced school districts in one of the most under-resourced regions of America — skipped work to protest reduced pay and what they called poor work conditions.

    As far as anyone knows, this was the first organized work stoppage in Mississippi public schools since 9,429 teachers walked out in a 1985 strike, after which lawmakers passed the demanded pay increases but also enacted one of the nation’s most stringent strike laws.

    Lawmakers that year made it explicitly illegal for school employees to strike in Mississippi. They drafted the law as broadly as possible to include pretty much any excuse that teachers — including bus drivers, in this case — could use.

    The consequences for the Greenville bus drivers, clearly written out in state law, are grave: They could be fired and would never be able to work in any public school district in the state again. Several of the drivers have indicated to Mississippi Today in recent days they did not know the extent of the state law before they went on strike, and school officials said on Thursday that several of the drivers tried to retroactively claim they were sick for the two days of the strike.

    Dorian Turner, the attorney for the Board of Trustees of the Greenville Public School District, said in a Greenville Public School District board meeting on Thursday afternoon that she had been gathering facts about what, exactly, happened last week. And despite the bus drivers’ claims about not knowing state law, she said that what occurred last week was, indeed, a strike.

    State Auditor Shad White, who earlier this year issued a demand for a return in taxpayer money to a University of Mississippi professor who participated in a nationwide walk-out, told Mississippi Today he is unsure if his office will investigate.

    “The state law is clear: public employees in Mississippi cannot strike,” White said in a statement. “My role, if there was a strike, is to ensure that striking employees were not paid while on strike. My assumption here is that the drivers were not paid while they were not driving, though we haven’t looked into it.”

    For years, attorneys and advocates both in Mississippi and outside the state have been clamoring to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s strike law. But without legal standing to make such a challenge, they’ve had nothing to do but wait. The Greenville bus drivers may have, perhaps inadvertently, kicked that door wide open.

    More: https://mississippitoday.org/2021/05...n-mississippi/

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Those on top seem fated to not learn the lesson of revolution, which is always fomented by oppression. And revolutions always seem impossible, until they aren't..

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    So, if the pay and conditions are so poor, and the striking drives are effectively fired and will not be rehired, who is going to drive the school buses?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Ah, anti-strike laws! We have those in Wisconsin, too--thanks to Republicans.

    Frankly, it's been a "death of a thousand cuts" progression here. Labor has been convinced that they are powerless.

    I wanted a state-wide teacher strike in 2011 when Republicans passed anti-union legislation. Didn't happen. As a result, we are now a "right to work" state where unions lost pretty much ALL ability to bargain with workers (you can "bargain" for wages, but not working conditions--so one school district I know "bargained" for a wage, and then switched the standard workload from 5 classes to 6--and since that was "working conditions," it couldn't be bargained). And unions must hold a re-certification vote each year that includes ALL employees (not just union members), and each no-show counts as a "no" vote.

    Union membership is WAY down in Wisconsin since then. In my high school, there are only 3 union members (including me). I was fired at a non-teaching job for talking to other staff about unions (illegal, but unprovable).

    But Nick's point is what makes this so frustrating. Yes, strikes are difficult, and potentially polarizing.

    Too bad. Don't want workers to strike? Then address their concerns.

    Workers really do have power, in solidarity. It will be interesting to see whether they wake up to that fact, and accept the consequences of using their power. I hope they do. I suspect they won't, not for a while yet.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Pssssh! They’re only bus drivers.

    If they want better money, they should get better jobs.

    Right? Isn’t that how it works?

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    As a former school bus driver, I can speak to the shortsightedness & stupidity communities display when it comes to hauling around 60 kids. One would think they'd want safe conditions for their kids, no? Ha!

    I worked for one company, owned by a state senator, that picked up repair parts from the junkyard. Bus needs a new master cylinder? Grab the old one, go to the junkyard & find one that'll bolt up. I one time lost the brakes coming down the steepest hill in town & barely managed to get the bus stopped before crossing a very busy road. When I called in to have a replacement bus & wrecker sent, the owner said "It's only 3 or 4 miles to the barn (barn is what they call the home location), you can make it that far." Like I'm gonna drive a bus with 60 elementary kids with no brakes. When I went to the school board about this, I was told they'd "look into it" & nothing happened.

    I worked for another company that knew a group of drivers were stopping between runs to smoke dope & did nothing "because drivers are hard to find". One morning I was late to work & passed a school bus (not a stopped one!) going really fast. It scared the driver so badly she drove the bus off the road. I got in trouble for it, she didn't.

    The worst was a car that ran the blinking lights when I was dropping off a kid. I had a rule that if I honked the horn, anyone crossing the road was to dive back towards the bus door. This car missed the 3rd grader by just a few feet. I was able to get a partial plate & description of the car & reported him to the police. When it came time for his court case, I testified (& no, no one paid for that time), he admitted that he'd done it, and the judge gave him a $15 fine - when it could've been $100 & 30 day loss of license. I blew up at the judge over this wrist slap (the driver was the owner of a big local business it seems) & he told me that if I didn't shut up immediately, I'd be found in contempt of court. I replied that I was already in contempt of his decision. It started to devolve & the bailiff dragged me out. He got why I was so pissed, but pointed out that my spending time in jail wouldn't help.

    I realize this is a bit of a tangent, but anyone who has kids transported on a school bus should do some research on the company (or local jurisdiction) that supplies the buses & drivers. The pay is pretty abysmal too.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Pssssh! They’re only bus drivers.

    If they want better money, they should get better jobs.

    Right? Isn’t that how it works?
    https://www.gwcommonwealth.com/news-...ies/road-again

    FedEx runs a daily bus from Greenville, Mississippi to Memphis with stops in Cleveland and Clarksdale. People from Greenville are riding a bus for 6 hours a day to work a 5 hour shift with pay starting at $13.50/hour. That should show just how hard it is to find a decent paying job around Greenville. It also shows why the area has been losing population since 1960.

    I went to school in Greenville and left to find work as did almost all of my friends.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy W View Post
    https://www.gwcommonwealth.com/news-...ies/road-again

    FedEx runs a daily bus from Greenville, Mississippi to Memphis with stops in Cleveland and Clarksdale. People from Greenville are riding a bus for 6 hours a day to work a 5 hour shift with pay starting at $13.50/hour. That should show just how hard it is to find a decent paying job around Greenville. It also shows why the area has been losing population since 1960.

    I went to school in Greenville and left to find work as did almost all of my friends.
    That was my attempt at sounding like the tone deaf mob about.

    I know all too well what it is to try and live on those wages. Ahem.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    i fear the thread title is a false hope
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    i fear the thread title is a false hope
    Depends on what you think it may transform into.
    Rattling the teacups.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    interesting. Round me school bus driver is one of those supposedly well paying jobs( $17.30 to $21.50/hr is the advertised starting wage depending on the district) that’s always hiring.
    Once again you get to learn (as if you have any interest in that) that where you are is not always the same as other places.
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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Thank God for Mississippi, even makes 'Bama look good!

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    As important as it is, the job of school bus driver is NOT for me. Essentially two mini-shifts split by a long break in the middle--but not so long as to be actually useful. Immense responsibility, low pay, and (I'd guess) not much respect.

    How many hours per week is a traditional school bus driver working? Twenty?

    I've had family members do the job; it doesn't seem like a job you can live on. More of a sideline gig.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ranger View Post
    Thank God for Mississippi, even makes 'Bama look good!
    Yeah.

    I was born in Alabama, and graduated from high school in Mississippi.

    This is what you look like when you do that:

    Rattling the teacups.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    interesting. Round me school bus driver is one of those supposedly well paying jobs( $17.30 to $21.50/hr is the advertised starting wage depending on the district) that’s always hiring.
    The internet gives the pay in Greenville SC as a couple dollars below that range. No enough to make one rich, but ...
    Life is complex.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Pssssh! They’re only bus drivers.

    If they want better money, they should get better jobs.

    Right? Isn’t that how it works?
    That is exactly how that works

    2447E372-EA9B-479F-8DE4-455994C748E5.jpg

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Little Time View Post
    The internet gives the pay in Greenville SC as a couple dollars below that range. No enough to make one rich, but ...
    Oh, yeah. Working a split-shift job at 30 hours/week or less, for 9-10 months of the year, is a path to the good life. That's, what, $18,000+ annually? The nerve of people riding that gravy train, daring to strike!

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    And yet it’s far more relevant to today than anecdotes from decades ago, which is something you will never accept.


    30? they advertise 20 hours a week around here.
    As I said, I had a couple of family members who drove school buses. I think at the most, they got 30 hours some weeks. Somewhere between 20-30 hours was typical--more than 20 hours usually meant adding weekend and evening shifts on top of the oh-so-convenient split shift during weekdays.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Little Time View Post
    The internet gives the pay in Greenville SC as a couple dollars below that range. No enough to make one rich, but ...
    What does the pay in Greenville, SC have to do with pay in Greenville, MS? The only thing they have in common is the name.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy W View Post
    What does the pay in Greenville, SC have to do with pay in Greenville, MS? The only thing they have in common is the name.
    My error. Sorry. (Turns out the pay is about the same.)
    Last edited by Too Little Time; 05-10-2021 at 03:56 PM.
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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Oh, yeah. Working a split-shift job at 30 hours/week or less, for 9-10 months of the year, is a path to the good life. That's, what, $18,000+ annually? The nerve of people riding that gravy train, daring to strike!
    You seem to be free with your inferences.

    In Greenville MS there were 5,6, and 7 hour daily routes; for 187 days/year ($18/hr). During the shut down all drivers were reduced to 5 hour routes and 180 days/year. The cuts are why they are striking.

    I have known a lot of people who were content with such jobs.
    Life is complex.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Little Time View Post
    You seem to be free with your inferences.

    In Greenville MS there were 5,6, and 7 hour daily routes; for 187 days/year ($18/hr). During the shut down all drivers were reduced to 5 hour routes and 180 days/year. The cuts are why they are striking.

    I have known a lot of people who were content with such jobs.
    Sure you have.

    5 x 187 x $18 = $16,830 annually

    6 x 187 x $18 = $20,196 annually

    7 x 187 x $18 = $23,562 annually

    My inferences don't seem quite so "free" when you take time to actually run the numbers, do they? Fits quite well with my earlier estimate:

    Working a split-shift job at 30 hours/week or less, for 9-10 months of the year, is a path to the good life. That's, what, $18,000+ annually?
    Tom
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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    https://mississippitoday.org/2021/04...ent-on-strike/

    Bus drivers in the Greenville district work either 5, 6 or 7-hour routes. But at the beginning of the current school year, all drivers were cut down to 5-hour routes as a result of the school district’s virtual-only instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Superintendent Debra Dace said they were also offered a voluntary furlough so they could collect unemployment but keep their jobs, though none opted to take it.

    Yolanda Lewis, a 19-year veteran bus driver with the district, said she and others met with Dace on the issue in November, but were given no relief. They asked to meet with the school board, but Dace told them the school board “didn’t want to meet with them.”

    Then, last month, the board voted to reduce the number of days of work for bus drivers and custodial employees by from 187 to 182 days in the 2021-2022 school year. Dace said she made the recommendation for the reduction of days to the board because she and the director of transportation determined there were “idle days” when students weren’t in school and didn’t need to be transported.

    Drivers received the letter informing them of the cut on Friday, and, as one school board member described it, it was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The letter also stated drivers would only be paid for days worked, which raised fears about the loss of paid holidays.

    Following the bus drivers’ strike, however, the board on Tuesday reversed that decision.

    Edwin Young, who has driven for the district for two years, told board members on Tuesday that he made $16,000 last year.

    “We’re not making anything … We are certified drivers, we got CDLs and we’re living at the poverty level,” he said, noting the additional lack of hazard pay amid the pandemic.

    And there are other issues in addition to the low pay, he and other drivers said. He still hasn’t been paid for hours he worked in October of last year despite repeatedly requesting the payment from the district.

    Lewis said she was exposed to COVID-19 earlier this month by a student on her bus. She had to quarantine for 10 days with no pay, and when she went to human resources, they said she wouldn’t receive pay, she said.

    She was already living on a smaller paycheck after having her hours reduced from 7 to 5. She had to give up her dental, vision and other supplemental insurance after she was no longer able to afford it working the 5-hour route.

    After the strike, however, she received a call Wednesday letting her know she would receive pay for those days.

    The district did not immediately respond to questions about these allegations. Dace is set to meet with the drivers on Friday.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Yep. A real gravy train, all right.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Sure you have.

    5 x 187 x $18 = $16,830 annually

    6 x 187 x $18 = $20,196 annually

    7 x 187 x $18 = $23,562 annually

    My inferences don't seem quite so "free" when you take time to actually run the numbers, do they? Fits quite well with my earlier estimate:
    I am not commenting on your math. I am not commenting on what you think the bus drivers should be paid.

    I am commenting on what the bus drivers want. I think your inference on what the bus drivers want is in error.
    Life is complex.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Little Time View Post
    I am not commenting on your math. I am not commenting on what you think the bus drivers should be paid.

    I am commenting on what the bus drivers want. I think your inference on what the bus drivers want is in error.
    Did you read the line in post #25 about the pandemic cuts being "the last straw"? And do you understand that this phrase implies a general lack of satisfaction with working conditions, wages, and benefits that pre-date COVIC-19 related cuts?

    If you think people making $16,000 per year for a split-shift job that carries huge amounts of responsibility but no prestige are "content" with their lot, I would suggest your connection to reality is tenuous.

    And if you think people go on strike in a state where striking is illegal, WITHOUT serious dissatisfaction in their working conditions and wages, you must be delusional. Workers do not take strikes lightly. It's a huge risk to take.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    It seems that what they want is a wage they can live on instead of being "some of the lowest paid employees in one of the most under-resourced school districts in one of the most under-resourced regions of America ". Unfortunately, since they are in one of the most under-resourced school districts in one of the most under-resourced regions of America, the school district might not have the resources to help them much even if it wanted to do so. Greenville has lost 1/3 of it's population since 1990 and many of it's businesses and doesn't have the tax base.

    Eden lives there and the lyrics of this song written by her mother are based of true facts.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Did you read the line in post #25 about the pandemic cuts being "the last straw"? And do you understand that this phrase implies a general lack of satisfaction with working conditions, wages, and benefits that pre-date COVIC-19 related cuts?

    If you think people making $16,000 per year for a split-shift job that carries huge amounts of responsibility but no prestige are "content" with their lot, I would suggest your connection to reality is tenuous.

    And if you think people go on strike in a state where striking is illegal, WITHOUT serious dissatisfaction in their working conditions and wages, you must be delusional. Workers do not take strikes lightly. It's a huge risk to take.
    I read the entire article before post #25 appeared. The "last straw" comment was made by a board member. It was a reference a letter sent by to the bus drivers refencing the cuts I mentioned in post #23. As I said the cuts were why they were on strike. Most people tolerate a lot of abuse before taking action. Some strike. Some quit.

    I have known people who were content with such jobs. They earned the money they wanted and they had the free time they wanted. I also understand many people might not want that. I have no idea what the bus drivers wanted - aside from restoration of their hours.
    Life is complex.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Mississippi has full gaming in their casinos, a lottery and at the least, easily available medical marijuana they can tax. Apparently Southern Baptist preachers pointing their finger at you from the pulpits on Sundays doesn’t work so well in Mississippi as it does in Alabama. If it’s not all stolen, and most it probably will be, they should have the money to improve their educational system before too long.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Little Time View Post
    I read the entire article before post #25 appeared. The "last straw" comment was made by a board member. It was a reference a letter sent by to the bus drivers refencing the cuts I mentioned in post #23. As I said the cuts were why they were on strike.
    Well, quite simply, no. That bold bit is quite wrong. "The last straw" means that there are MANY reasons, and that the imposition of the cuts was the LAST of those many reasons. Not "the" reason.

    As far as you having no idea what the bus drivers wanted--well, I trust you when you say you have no idea. But, having worked exploitative low-paying jobs myself, I suspect that I understand what they want pretty well.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by bamamick View Post
    Mississippi has full gaming in their casinos, a lottery and at the least, easily available medical marijuana they can tax. Apparently Southern Baptist preachers pointing their finger at you from the pulpits on Sundays doesn’t work so well in Mississippi as it does in Alabama. If it’s not all stolen, and most it probably will be, they should have the money to improve their educational system before too long.

    Mickey Lake
    Greenville and the surrounding Delta is 2/3 black people and votes Democratic in about the same percentage. I don't expect the Republican legislature and Governor to offer much help.

    My parents were opposed to the casinos because they thought the casinos would take money from the local people and send it to Las Vegas. I think they were about right. Nothing in Greenville has improved since the casinos were opened.

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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    In my experience, casinos are rarely a force for good. Lots of unhappiness comes with casino culture, for lots of people.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    The casinos themselves just suck money out of the people who use them, but the stuff around them, the restaurants, hotels, etc. at least in Biloxi and Gulfport, they have certainly aided in the redevelopment of those areas post-Katrina. I can attest to one thing for a fact: the rural highway system in Mississippi is one of the best I have traveled on. But I agree, the area around Greenville doesn’t seemed to have benefitted very much from any of this.

    Mickey Lake
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    Default Re: Greenville bus strike could transform public education in Mississippi

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Well, quite simply, no. That bold bit is quite wrong. "The last straw" means that there are MANY reasons, and that the imposition of the cuts was the LAST of those many reasons. Not "the" reason.

    As far as you having no idea what the bus drivers wanted--well, I trust you when you say you have no idea. But, having worked exploitative low-paying jobs myself, I suspect that I understand what they want pretty well.
    If you look at the date of the news articles - April 29, and read them you will discover that the drivers were back on the job on April 28. I have not uncovered any news report indicating that "MANY reasons" were resolved.

    It is often useful to read to the end of a sentence. It helps with maintaining meaning when paraphrasing.

    I have no idea what the bus drivers wanted - aside from restoration of their hours.


    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    But, having worked exploitative low-paying jobs myself, I suspect that I understand what they want pretty well.
    I can look back at my work history and find similar experiences. And looking back I can see the cause of my quitting. Not the exploitation or low pay. Just the "last straw" - a single act not a culmination of acts. It appears you think exploitation, low pay, and some final act were cumulative in your history.


    When I hear exploitation of labor, I think Marx. That is not a good direction to lead one.
    Last edited by Too Little Time; 05-12-2021 at 11:13 AM.
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