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WESTMINSTER GRAPHICS, INC. v. NEW YORK TYPOGRAPHIC

May 20, 1980

WESTMINSTER GRAPHICS, INC., Plaintiff, against NEW YORK TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION NO. 6, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEAHER

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This action by an employer for a stay of arbitration of an asserted labor controversy is alleged to arise under the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 141 et seq. ("Act"). Jurisdiction is premised on § 301 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185. The parties have cross-moved for summary judgment upon a stipulation of uncontested facts that reveals the following:

 In or about June 1975, defendant New York Typographical Union No. 6 ("Union") notified the Printers League Section, Printing Industries of Metropolitan New York, Inc. ("Printers League") that it wished to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one then in effect, which was scheduled to expire on October 4, 1975. The Printers League then represented plaintiff, among other employers, in a multi-employer collective bargaining group.

 Prior to the commencement of negotiations on July 5, 1975, the Printers League sent the Union a list ("First List") of employers it would represent during the negotiations. Plaintiff was among those listed. Negotiations led to a proposed agreement in early December 1975, which the negotiating parties agreed to take back to their respective memberships for ratification. Although the Union's members eventually ratified the proposed agreement on December 21, 1975, the membership of the Printers League rejected it and instructed the negotiating committee to return to the bargaining table and seek certain concessions.

 At a meeting on or about December 16, 1975, the Printers League informed the Union of its position. At that meeting, or shortly thereafter, the Union's president, Bertram Powers, notified the League that the Union would make no changes in the proposed agreement and would proceed to sign up, on a non-League basis, those individual member employers of the League who wished to accept the proposed agreement. Thereafter, certain members of the Printers League accepted its terms and signed individual agreements with the Union. Plaintiff did not.

 In view of the foregoing development, the Printers League subsequently requested all its members on the First List who wished to accept the proposed agreement to execute new authorization cards for the purpose of permitting the League to sign the agreement on behalf of those members authorizing it to do so. Plaintiff did not execute such an authorization card.

 Thereafter, the Printers League informed the Union that it would sign a multi-employer collective bargaining agreement without identifying which employers would be party to that agreement. The Union, however, was subsequently notified on January 20, 1976, of the names of those employers who agreed to be bound by the multi-employer contract. That list did not include the name of plaintiff. The agreement signed between the Union and the League was the same agreement the Union's members had ratified on December 21, 1975 (Stip. of Facts P 8).

 Following the agreement noted above and receipt of the authorization forms of those employers wishing to be bound by the agreement, the Printers League sent the Union a new or Second List of employers, some but not all of whom had been on the First List, who on January 19, 1976, had ratified and agreed to be bound by the agreement and who then constituted a new multi-employer group. The Second List did not include the name of plaintiff. The Union accepted this list of members as constituting a new multi-employer bargaining group (Stip. of Facts PP 9, 10).

 Prior to January 19, 1976, neither plaintiff nor the Printers League had notified the Union that plaintiff no longer authorized the League to represent it. No separate agreement was at any time executed by plaintiff and defendant.

 Although the parties have agreed on the above statement of facts, they diverge in their interpretations of these facts. Plaintiff views the issue before the court as whether it agreed to become a member of an entirely different multi-employer group which ultimately adopted the contract with the Union. Plaintiff claims that, while it was a member of the Printers League group which negotiated to impasse with the Union (it was on the First List), it declined to join the new multi-employer bargaining group in response to the Printers League inquiry by letter dated January 13, 1976 (Pl. Exh. C), and thus was not bound by the agreement reached by the Printers League on behalf of "Second List" members and the Union.

 For its part, the Union contends plaintiff is bound by the agreement which the Union ratified on December 21, 1975, and the Printers League ratified on January 19, 1976. It claims neither plaintiff nor the Printers League notified the Union at any time from the beginning of negotiations in July 1975 to January 20, 1976, when the Printers League sent the Union the "Second List," that plaintiff had withdrawn or intended to withdraw from the multi-employer bargaining unit. Thus, the Union argues, plaintiff failed to withdraw effectively from the multi-employer bargaining unit and is therefore bound by its actions or inactions and those of its representative, the Printers League, notwithstanding any intention to do otherwise.

 We are not persuaded by defendant's fundamental contention that the rights and obligations of the parties became fixed on January 19, 1976, the date the Printers League ratified the collective bargaining agreement on behalf of its members, and that plaintiff is bound because the Union did not receive notice that plaintiff had not authorized the League to sign the agreement on its behalf until a day later, January 20, 1976. This position is too narrow and ignores the parties' course of conduct after the Printers League ratified the contract.

 By letter dated January 20, 1976, to Bertram Powers, the Union's president, James E. Horne, executive vice-president of the League stated in relevant part that:

 
"Based on the authority of the special meeting of the Printers League held on Monday, January 19, 1976, to consider the adoption by the League of a multi-employer contract with New York Typographical Union No. 6, I advise you, that in accordance with the Constitution and By-Laws of the Printers League, I am empowered to offer to New York Typographical Union No. 6, as a ...

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