The opinion of the court was delivered by: POLLACK
This is a representative class suit for a declaratory judgment brought by plaintiffs on their own behalf and on behalf of all journeymen pressmen
similarly affected, against their Union, the defendant, New York Newspaper Printing Pressmens Union No. 2. Also joined as defendants are two newspaper publishers, the defendants, New York Times Co. and News Syndicate Co., Inc. who publish newspapers within the Union's territorial jurisdiction and who are parties to a collective bargaining agreement with the Union. The plaintiffs have expressly stated that they do not seek any affirmative relief against the newspaper publishers. They were named merely to apprise them of the results of this lawsuit.
Jurisdiction over the subject matter of this suit exists under Section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act (29 U.S.C.A. § 185(a)).
The plaintiffs charge that on or about June 16, 1965, without any vote by the Union's membership, the defendant Union undertook to promulgate an order freezing all seniority
of its members employed by the defendant newspapers including that of these plaintiffs.
Thereafter, on Sept. 18, 1966, the Union lifted the freeze for a period of thirty (30) days within which former employees of closed newspapers might obtain employment, free of the freeze order, with the defendant newspapers.
The plaintiffs charge that their seniority rights were thereby affected by "arbitrary and discriminatory" acts which " invades the plaintiff's contract and property rights flowing from the pre-existing collective bargaining agreement of June 1, 1965." Such a claim is tantamount to asserting that the Union has breached its duty of fair representation and that the breach violates the collective bargaining agreement. However, the plaintiffs have clearly stated that the action is not upon the collective bargaining agreement as such, but upon the allegedly wrongful acts of the Union first, in promulgating the freeze order and thereafter, fixing the thirty (30) day interval free of the freeze order, mentioned above and thus superseding the seniority and priority attained by these plaintiffs through employment by the defendant newspapers by some of them for more than a year prior to the limited lifting of the freeze.
The facts of this case were largely stipulated and showed the following:
The Union is and has been a labor union chartered by the International Printing Pressmen and Assistants Union of North America.
The Union is the collective bargaining agent for its members, and has territorial jurisdiction, among other places, throughout the City of New York.
The collective bargaining agreement between the defendant Union, and the Publishers Association of New York City, (which was the representative of the remaining two defendants) was effective March 31, 1965 and expired March 30, 1967. At the time of the execution of this collective bargaining agreement, there were in existence and under territorial jurisdiction of the defendant Union, three other newspapers, known respectively as Herald Tribune, World Telegram and Sun, and Journal American, the publishers of which were all parties to and bound by the same collective bargaining agreement.
The local Union Constitution provides as follows:
Form of Organization Senior and Auxiliary Branches
Sec. 1. This local shall be composed of journeymen newspaper printing pressmen of every description, embracing those employed in the production of daily newspapers, comic and magazine sections of newspapers, pictorial rotogravure sections of newspapers and those who are or who may be employed in the production of any other part or section of newspapers, which are produced or may be produced by any special process not mentioned herein. The members employed at work, as described above, shall constitute the senior branch of this local.
Sec. 2. This local shall maintain an auxiliary composed of all apprentices and junior pressmen who do not qualify for journeymen membership in the senior branch. The auxiliary shall in all respects be subordinate to and ...