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“I don’t know what else they can do but go on strike”

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

*From a News-Gazette editorial

Last week, AFSCME Executive Director Roberta Lynch announced that union members voted by an overwhelming margin to authorize their negotiators to call a strike if management does not return to the bargaining table.

“We’re going to continue to think that at some point this governor will realize that conflict, confrontation is not the way to move the state forward. We’re going to keep working every way we can to convince him to return to the bargaining table and make a good-faith effort to resolve the situation,” Lynch said.

But judging from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s response to Lynch’s invitation to resume negotiations, that’s not going to happen.

“The labor board unanimously said we’re at impasse. We’ve been at impasse. Negotiations are done. Those days are gone,” he said.

The editorial goes on to question how many workers would actually walk out and how many would stay out.

* Christopher Mooney, the director of the Institute of Government and Policy at the University of Illinois, talked about that topic yesterday, saying that the governor could win the messaging battle with the voters and then added this

This is not the United Mine Workers of America, this is not the United Auto Workers of America. I’ve seen mine workers strike. Mine workers strike, they are striking to the death. I mean they beat scabs bloody. And they’ll be out on strike for two years to get what they want because they are tightly bound, they work in teams, they’re underground in a dangerous environment and they don’t have a lot of options. So when it comes time to fight the coal bosses their backs are against the wall.

It’s not really the same situation for most AFSCME workers. They work in offices, they work out in the field in various places, too, but there’s not that tight cohesion that there is in industrial unions. And I wonder how long such a strike would last, especially as has been reported there’s not a significant strike fund to support these people. […]

On the other hand, I don’t know what else they can do but go on strike. The governor basically said this is the way it is and we’re going to just impose our contract. If they don’t strike, because that’s really their only other option, they basically just roll over and say we just don’t exist any more, we’re so marginalized that we don’t matter. […]

When the coal miners go on strike, they don’t necessarily have to worry about public image. There’s some of that that goes on, but they’re really fighting the bosses and it’s a power play that way. This is going to be fought in the public arena for both sides because it’s taxpayers that are the bosses and they have to be convinced on one side or the other… When you’ve got a single messenger and you can tick off some talking points, whether completely accurate or not, that people can relate to, the governor’s office might have the advantage.

Those talking points, of course, are the demands for a 40-hour work week, higher health insurance costs, etc.

Also, there’s lately been a tiny bit of deep background push-back on earlier reporting that AFSCME has no strike fund.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 10:44 am:

    === If they don’t strike, because that’s really their only other option, they basically just roll over and say we just don’t exist any more, we’re so marginalized that we don’t matter. ===

    That’s it. AFSCME lives or dies on the outcome of a strike.

  2. - Anon - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 10:47 am:

    That strike authorization vote has really painted AFSCME into a corner. Good strategy — insist on continued negotiations after impasse is declared. They played right into the governor’s hand, especially since he is publicly fighting to have employees continue to receive paychecks!!

  3. - Curl of the Burl - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 10:47 am:

    To me it all comes down to how many can afford FAMILY health insurance without the state paying its share. The last time I had my own insurance through the state my personal coverage for an open access plan was $7,500 per year before my contributions were considered. Adding my family would have cost the state $25,000. My rates were based on what AFSCME negotiated. So in a nutshell a striking employee who has 4-5 people on his or her insurance will be required to foot the bill with no salary and whatever AFSCME can pay from its strike fund. Who can do that? Friends of mine who voted to strike are keeping a unified front and saying all the right things but with mortgage payments, school/tuition costs, car payments, etc., it would be awfully tough to then try to pay full price for health insurance while being on strike.

  4. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 10:48 am:

    == Those talking points, of course, are the demands for a 40-hour work week, higher health insurance costs, etc. ==

    AFSCME has said they would agree to most of that … but a lot of the public doesn’t know it.

    The union’s push-back is the one item that is non-negotiable: the removal of the need to prove that any outsourcing contract would save money. The union needs to beat the drum all day, every day, that it allows Rauner to hand out rich contracts to his buddies and supporters.

  5. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 10:50 am:

    The Courts and, to a lesser extent, the GA are all AFSCME members have to hang our hats on now. There was no way Rauner was ever returning to the bargaining table. He already got the ILRB ruling he wanted.

  6. - AC - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 10:55 am:

    There’s no reason why AFSCME couldn’t have the same level of cohesion as other unionized employees, solidarity is a choice. There’s also no reason the governor can’t resume bargaining, that’s a choice as well. Both choices require a certain amount of enlightened self interest.

  7. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    Bottom line is this. Can you live with it? By 81% AFSCME’s said they couldn’t.
    Will lots cross the picket line? We’ll see

    But regardless you can’t have function in a state with the amount of people who would walk out.
    Smallest workforce per capita when Rauner started.
    Now down 30% by verified numbers.

    Even if only half walked out it would reduce function to
    near nothing.

    Rauner does have the appreciations to hire replacement scabs

    Not to mention that those who cross the picket are also severely aggrieved as well. They won’t work hard just to get shafted with their healthcare and rights.

    Afacmes have to do what’s right for them. The public probably won’t even notice. They haven’t said hardly a word about the financial destruction of the state, it’s private social services, and contractual obligations. What do they care.

    I refuse to pay double for my health insurance and lose most of my rights because the public is deceived by Rauners perfidy.

    Madigan and the DEMS didn’t believe it either.

  8. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 10:58 am:

    “I have nothing else to say and am not interested in hearing what you have to say at this point – carry that message back to your principals.”

    AFSCME bet the farm that the GA would bail them out with the arbitration bills. Now that that failed, they want Rauner to return to the bargaining table?

  9. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    Robert we were doomed when Rauner won. It’s frankly a miracle that we have slipped out of his grasp for so long. Now we are two eagles locked together plummeting.

  10. - A Non - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    I wish we had some clue when the Fourth District Appellate Court will rule on the motion for permanent stay. Might they hold onto it until after the 2018 election and leave the temporary stay in place the whole time?

  11. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    I’m not so sure. Rauner’s wanted a strike. AFSCME danced to his tune by being so stubborn. If AFSCME would have offered the counter they now are publicly offering, Rauner probably wouldn’t be able to declare impasse or force a strike.

  12. - AC - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    Robert the 1st - Nothing, aside from his own decision, is stopping the Governor from returning to the bargaining table. As you know, that quote was taken out of context, from AFSCME: “The statement quoted actually came after the Administration had declared impasse and the Union had stated that the parties were not at impasse.”

  13. - Realist - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:08 am:

    Let’s face it, Rauner played this beautifully. His goal was to get rid of AFSCME, and now it is inevitable. A strike will be a disaster for them, because so many will cross the line. What they should do at this point is establish an employee association, agree to de-certify AFSCME, and then work with Rauner, understanding that we live in bad times in this state, and changes need to happen. They should then push for a strong merit system with “Hatch Act” like prohibitions, something I think Rauner would support. We need to rebuild a professional and non-political workforce, as well as a stable and qualified management cadre. Get the politics out of state government, and that means send AFSCME, IFT, and SEIU packing. They have outlived their usefulness.

  14. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:12 am:

    That’s the first time I’ve seen that counter AC… although I’m not sure how it even makes sense in that context if true…

  15. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    Honestly Robert do you really believe Rauner would have accepted our recent “negotiation framework”? Come on be honest about your man. Rauner only wants our complete destruction. Be honest for the love of God.

  16. - NoGifts - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    Honeybear….nice imagery!

  17. - allknowingmasterofracoondom - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    AC - Robert the 1st - Nothing, aside from his own decision, is stopping the Governor from returning to the bargaining table. As you know, that quote was taken out of context, from AFSCME: “The statement quoted actually came after the Administration had declared impasse and the Union had stated that the parties were not at impasse.”

    But didn’t the ILRB declare the impasse? It does not matter if Rauner or AFSCME declares an impasse.

  18. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:15 am:

    I am being honest. I do believe he wanted a strike. Your leadership could have potentially avoided the impasse, much to Rauner’s disappointment, by offering the concessions sooner.

  19. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:16 am:

    But remember. No one wins Ragnarok.

    Our workforce will be totally ineffectual after this.

    The engine won’t restart

    But that’s what Rauner wants

    Perfect ground for mass privatization.

  20. - molly maguire - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    Post is spot on. As a labor man, I believe that an Afscme strike would be self-defeating, and play right into Rauner’s hands. Public employees have to convince the public, and Afscme has not done that.

  21. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:22 am:

    ===But didn’t the ILRB declare the impasse?===

    Administration: “We’re at impasse.”

    AFSCME: “No we’re not. We’re prepared to negotiate further.”

    ILR judge: “Parties are at impasse with regard to outsourcing. Admin. should return to negotiations on other issues.”

    ILRB: “Um, we don’t know what to do. There’s no precedent. Uh oh, Bruce is giving us ‘The Look’! IMPASSE DECLARED”

  22. - A State Employee Guy - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:30 am:

    This is the first I’ve heard of a 40 hour work week. My math ain’t great but I’m pretty sure if I leave after 37.5 on Friday I’ll continue to not get fired.

  23. - kitty - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:31 am:

    AFSCME’s continued inability to conduct an effective legislative and public messaging campaign focusing on Rauner’s elimination of the requirement to demonstrate cost effectiveness prior to outsourcing represents extreme negligence and a lost opportunity.

  24. - Cassandra - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:37 am:

    How long does the strike authorization last. If long, or indefinite, I could see this going on for months or even years, while both sides wait for the courts to tell them what to do. Kind of like the pensions.Presumably, employees would still have their jobs and present salaries and benefits, but no increases.Maybe state govt would save on labor costs over what they would have been paying had a contract been inked. Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing-for both sides.

  25. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    To Mr Mooney. What exactly has the UMW done to declare victory? Come on down to So. ILL AND SEE WHATS LEFT OF THE UNION COAL INDUSTRY. whats left of benefits for retirees lies in the hands of McConnel,Paul,Manchin snd Trump.

  26. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:41 am:

    Kitty- nobody is listening and nobody cares. Well I guess some on this blog care but really. People are “shoulding” all over the place. It’s way past time when something could be done.

    For what it’s worth I bring up the privatization issue up all the time. People won’t give a crap till they lose their job to it.

  27. - A Non - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:51 am:

    If the Fourth District is pro-Rauner they might deny the stay this week and let Rauner have his way, thus forcing a strike.

  28. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    ==Kitty- nobody is listening and nobody cares. ==

    People care, just not in a manner AFSCME likes.

  29. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    From the News-Gazette “Rauner has negotiated at length with AFSCME and concluded new contract agreements with 20 other unions representing state employees.” Again, a little light on the details. Sigh…

  30. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 12:13 pm:

    Exactly blue dog.

  31. - Piece of Work - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 12:20 pm:

    All MJM has to do is pick up the phone and agree to a few things and it is likely a done deal. Pretty simple.

  32. - Generic Drone - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 12:39 pm:

    Only a scab would cross any picket line.

  33. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 12:43 pm:

    Agree Piece of Work…

  34. - A Jack - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    I am having a difficult time justifying a strike to myself, so I am sure the public will have a hard time seeing it.

    Sure, health insurance is going to go up a lot, but it went up 280% under Quinn. And I think the union gave in on that.

    Overtime? I just won’t work it. It will have to go to the junior employees who probably need the money more than me anyway.

    Outsourcing? I don’t think it will happen. But if the GA wants to pass a bill limiting the number of state positions that can be outsourced, I won’t argue with that. It makes sense from a public safety standpoint to ensure a certain percentage of the state workforce remains permanent. I am surprised the GA hasn’t looked into such a bill already.

  35. - Johnnie F. - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 1:22 pm:

    So if there is a strike, per labor law Rauner has to go to arbitration with the 10K AFSCME employees that aren’t allowed to strike. Plus before a strike starts, he can go to his labor board and request additional state employees to be deemed essential and therefore they won’t be able to strike but now will qualify for arbitration too. No doubt he will request thousands more state employees to be deemed essential and thus qualify them for arbitration. By the time a strike starts half the state workforce might be eligible for arbitration that could ultimately cost the state more than the current offer AFSCME put on the table. However…this isn’t about money it’s about killing off the beast’s arms while avoiding blame. Just another K-12 funding scenario but applied to solely to state worker world. If you’re not deemed essential, you will be this battle’s equivalent a social service provider or state university…while the public notices little and bills keep piling up.

  36. - to Generic Drone - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    You realize that a lot of state agencies in the same building are union but not AFSCME? All those other union members are not part of the strike and will have to cross the picket line. Does that still make them scabs? The union mentality calling people scabs went out in the 1970’s.

  37. - Echo The Bunnyman - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    Honestly, I don’t think the Union leadership is doing the members any favors with this vote. Folks in the private sector have seen wages stagnant and Insurance double. I really believe that the Governor wants a strike because he will win the PR battle. I am not saying I agree with this tactic by the Governor. I am just saying, not having a paycheck will not be something that can last very long for most people. Sad state.

  38. - Echo The Bunnyman - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 1:53 pm:

    A Jack… That’s the best post today…Someone who is affected and doesn’t agree.. The other issue, if the members were so behind leadership. Rauner would never been elected. They would have gotten behind Dillard or at worst Quinn… They had plenty members vote for Rauner I am sure.

  39. - NaperThrill - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    They don’t have a strike fund. Look at their LM-2

  40. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 2:44 pm:

    == They don’t have a strike fund. Look at their LM-2 ==

    But is national going to help out? This is just one case that is apparently part of a coordinated state by state attack on AFSCME.

    And going back to my experience growing up in a trade union family that usually went on strike every few years, you didn’t depend on the local strike fund anyway; you knew when the contract was up and you always had your own personal strike fund ready.

  41. - Oh - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 2:47 pm:

    Let them strike. Most will not notice and commerce will move on - it always does.

  42. - justme - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 3:20 pm:

    If they don’t like the job and pay, go get a different one.

  43. - Tired of it all - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 3:30 pm:

    Has any other union indicated that they would not cross AFSCME pick line?

  44. - Echo The Bunnyman - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 3:37 pm:

    Tired… I wonder if there own members will have the stomach not to cross. Wouldn’t any other group be waiting on that? Furthermore, all of the bleak news Illinois has had for the last few years, I suspect those with jobs are thankful. The line in the sand the union proposed due to higher healthcare costs, maybe the final blow of this union. It’s such a non starter for the public. I hope they lose face and pull back, instead of losing good jobs. That will be the decision for members. My hope is they don’t walk out. It’s the only way this Governor wins.

  45. - DHS Jim - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 3:37 pm:

    Something tells me justme doesn’t believe that workers have a right to collectively bargain. Either take what management gives you or find another job, which is incredibly easy.

  46. - Hottot - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:00 pm:

    =Let them strike. Most will not notice and commerce will move on. It always does.=

    Maybe that’s because state workers have never went on strike. It’s easy to not notice something that’s never happened.

  47. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:01 pm:

    Although it’s going to financially hurt like crazy, I plan on striking. I don’t think I could look my daughters in the eye if I didn’t. Standing up to a bully, holding the line for my Union is an act of personal integrity that is important for them to witness.

  48. - Echo The Bunnyman - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:25 pm:

    Honey bear. I hope it doesn’t come to that. As someone who has witnessed job loss. Pride is the first thing that is lost. I hope you don’t have to go without pay long term. By 6 months without a check. The rubber meets the road. Talk and unity is just that , talk.

  49. - walker - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:30 pm:

    PoW 12:20 and Anonymous 12:43 again join to blame Michael J Madigan for it all.

    MJM Union-Buster Supreme. Who knew?

  50. - A State Employee Guy - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:33 pm:

    I’ll cross the picket line, and it would be great if I could get some boos rained upon me while I did so. Option 2 is for AFSCME to realize that subcont. is not moveable and instead make actual movement on their health care proposal before a strike forces their hand in doing so.

  51. - Mama - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:44 pm:

    A lot of people seem to think the down fall of AFSCME’s negotiations was only about paying 100% more for health insurance. That is only part of the problem. No job security is another big part of the down fall.

  52. - DHS Jim - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:46 pm:

    Subcontracting, subcontracting, subcontracting. Can’t say this enough…

  53. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:47 pm:

    Echo, as a matter fact I have faced job loss and unemployment both. I get what you’re saying but this is different. Before I didn’t have a choice. Now I have a choice. I’m choosing to have personal integrity and self respect to stand against a person who has literally destroyed the state economically just to hurt unions. Not many people get the chance to stand up like that. I will

  54. - Dr X - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:47 pm:

    Blue Dog Dem - Mooney used to live in WVA - where the UAW did much better than SoIL.

  55. - Echo The Bunnyman - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:50 pm:

    The reason I perpetuate the insurance issue is because I like other non state workers is about all we care or hear about. Job security issues runs at about the same on the sympathy level as does increases on health care costs. Do a few searches on the economic climate in Illinois over the last 6 months that Rich has posted. The States a mess for all of us.

  56. - Echo The Bunnyman - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 4:52 pm:

    Honeybear. Again, I hope it never comes to it. If it does, I wish you the best.

  57. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 5:09 pm:

    AFSCME has been trying to get Rauner back to the bargaining table for thirteen months now. Our latest (excellent) offer (set out to the media, since Rauner has his head in the sand) is a real sacrifice for all state employees - basically a 8.5% cut for anyone who is already “topped out” and two measly step increases in four years for the rest.

    The people of Illinois need to understand that this problem cannot be fixed by only “whacking” the current workers. State Employees are taxpayers too and will shoulder the burden of increased taxes when they come.

    If Rauner imposes his terrible deal, AFSCME will strike! Better to go down fighting than just lay down and die!

  58. - blue dog dem - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 5:14 pm:

    Dr X. I understand a bit. The coal industry has crushed the UMW. They have been able to hide under EPA regs, but the spinoff trend and the dumping of pensions and lifetime healthcare was a grand plan. Like somebody else I know, when you make promises that are financially difficult to keep……

  59. - Truth - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 5:22 pm:

    Just a thought…why doesn’t Afscme have a strike fund? Where did all of the dues money go? They are the biggest employee union and somehow they just take your money and spend it. Afscme should release all of its reserve money if they believe this cause is winnable. I’d bet the majority of non-voting union members would have voted To strike had Afscme set up a decent strike fund. What say you!

  60. - Lurker - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 6:29 pm:

    AFSCME workers should take note of the comment from Johnnie F. - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 1:22 pm.
    I have been harping this to the union reps for months. I don’t know all the details of the labor law that JF sites, but an essential employee list or at least a process to determine such a list does exist and this negates the effect of a strike.
    From what I understand some staff have already been notified and once the union decides there will be a strike they have to give the State X amount of days notice of the date the strike starts. The State then can notify all employees, (and the union), that are deemed essential. The point I tried to make to the union, (fell on deaf ears I must say), is that if operations are continuing through a formal, agreed upon process then a strike is doomed to fail.

  61. - A Jack - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 6:43 pm:

    And certainly AFSCME didn’t do the strike any favors by fighting to get the essentials, merit comp, and any other line crossers paid.

    It’s like you are going to lay seige in a fort, but first you ensure you give the fort inhabitants lots of food and water. Yet, you don’t give yourself any food or water through a strike fund.

  62. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 6:58 pm:

    And what does it do for strikers’ morale when the small handful of State entities that are non-union keep rolling along, some with salaries AFSCME could only dream of?

  63. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 8:55 pm:

    Arthur Andersen- it does nothing. Who cares

  64. - Honeybear - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 8:57 pm:

    A Jack, the fort doesn’t have food and water. The agencies are starved and there are no funds to hire replacements.

  65. - A State Employee Guy - Monday, Feb 27, 17 @ 9:21 pm:

    Anon, the last AFSCME proposal re: health insurance was not a real offer, but of course you know this. The state has been at 100% increases since jump street and the union, after 13 months, finally counters with… 2.5-3%. FOH.

  66. - Late to the Party - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 7:55 am:

    would non-AFSCME union members cross the picket lines? I don’t know. Personal choice, I guess.

    Remember when the baseball players went on strike and they were irritated when the hot dog vendors did not honor their picket line?

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* Under the Dome Podcast: More Blago-Pritzker talk, Rauner confirms Duke is racist
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* Herald & Review Archives: 1968 historical events
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* King.
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* Anita Alvarez’s campaign consultants gave her talking points before she announced charges against Jason Van Dyke, and other Chicago news

* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
* Illinois EPA Announces Upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
* Governor and Lt. Governor Unveil 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices

* Clever looks to give teachers and students an easy-to-track progress report
* Google’s Family Link app will help you monitor your child’s online activity
* Def Leppard Now Available to Stream on Apple Music
* iPhone X shipment forecasts getting bleaker, 2018 models expected to sell like crazy
* Facebook Doubling Down on Stories Format By Testing Ability to Post From Desktop
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* Inbox: Who replaces Rodon in the rotation?
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* With maturity comes lofty expectations for Eloy
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* With maturity comes lofty expectations for Eloy
* Pirates rebuild not met with enthusiasm
* Moncada guiding Robert during mini-camp

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