The opinion of the court was delivered by: GRIESA
This is an action by The New York Times Company against the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers' Union of New York and Vicinity ("NMDU") and three officials of that union Douglas LaChance, Lawrence May and Monte Rosenberg. The action arises out of the fact that the Times and NMDU are parties to a collective bargaining agreement that contains a no-strike clause, and a clause setting up a mechanism for handling grievances through arbitration. Under the arbitration procedure, either party can request rulings from the chairman of the arbitration panel, the so-called "Impartial Chairman," as to whether changes in particular working conditions alter the "status quo" under the contract. The case concluded with an Order and Judgment on Consent entered June 4, 1980.
In essence, the consent order required the NMDU to comply with any status quo ruling of the Impartial Chairman until and unless the ruling should be overturned by a higher authority in the arbitration procedure.
The Times seeks to have defendants found in contempt of the June 4, 1980 order because of certain events occurring on September 17, 1980, and to collect substantial damages based on the losses caused by the allegedly contemptuous conduct. The Times also requests the court to impose a prospective fine in order to deter future violations of the order.
The court holds that NMDU and also defendant Lawrence May were guilty of contempt of the June 4, 1980 consent order. No basis for a finding of contempt against defendants LaChance and Rosenberg has been shown. As to those defendants guilty of contempt, damages in the amount of $ 229,718 are assessed. The application for a prospective fine is denied.
At about 4:00 a.m. on September 17, 1980 Anthony Taddeo, an employee of the Times and an NMDU member and chapel chairman (shop steward), was suspended from work at the Times plant at Carlstadt, New Jersey. As news of this suspension spread, other NMDU members at the Carlstadt plant and at the Times plant on West 43rd Street, New York City, stopped work.
Almost immediately Howard Bishow, director of industrial relations for the Times, placed a call from the 43rd Street plant to Impartial Chairman Maurice Benewitz and informed him of the situation. Benewitz asked to speak to an NMDU official. Bernard Weisner, an NMDU chapel chairman at 43rd Street, then spoke with Benewitz who told Weisner to have an official of the NMDU call him (Benewitz) or he would have Weisner convey a ruling to the union members.
Fifteen minutes later (4:20 or 4:25 a.m.) Benewitz called 43rd Street and asked to speak to Weisner. No union official had yet called Benewitz. At that time Weisner was speaking with NMDU vice-president May. When Weisner went to speak with Benewitz, Bishow spoke with May. May said the substantive dispute involving Taddeo could be resolved later and that the NMDU members would return to work if Taddeo were immediately reinstated. Bishow replied that the NMDU's use of self-help in a grievance situation was troublesome to the Times, and that the Times desired to work out the problem through the grievance machinery. Bishow then suggested that May call Benewitz and May said he would do so. Bishow gave Benewitz's telephone number to May. May did not call Benewitz.
Benewitz announced to Weisner on the telephone that he ruled in favor of the Times that the suspension of Taddeo was not a violation of the status quo, and that the union members should return to work. Bishow spoke with Benewitz, was notified of the status quo ruling, and proceeded to inform other persons at the Times.
At 4:30 a.m. Weisner told the NMDU members at 43rd Street that Benewitz had issued a ruling and he urged them to go back to work in accordance with the ruling. The NMDU members refused to return to work unless Taddeo was reinstated. Weisner communicated this to Times foreman Luke Murphy.
Fifteen minutes later (4:45 or 4:50 a.m.) Murphy came to where the NMDU members were gathered. Murphy stated that the men had five minutes to come back to work, or the Times would shut its doors. The men did not return to work. The Times closed its doors and members of other craft unions started leaving the 43rd Street plant. The Times presses at 43rd Street were shut down at 5:01 a.m.
Murphy had telephoned Vinnie Savarese, foreman of the Times Carlstadt plant, around 4:45 a.m. advising Savarese of the Benewitz ruling. Savarese communicated this information to the NMDU members who had walked out at Carlstadt.
Shortly before 5:00 a.m. NMDU business agent Joseph Miraglia arrived at Carlstadt. Informed of the problem, Miraglia telephoned Murphy and was informed of the Benewitz ruling. Miraglia did not order the men to return to work. He merely ordered them to deliver those papers already loaded into the trucks, and told the rest of the men to go home. The presses at Carlstadt were shut down at 5:01 a.m.
NMDU vice-president May was observed at the Times cafeteria on 43rd Street at about 5:45 a.m. As already stated, Bishow of the Times had spoken to May on the telephone about the problem at around 4:20 or 4:25 a.m., and had asked May to call Benewitz, which May had not done. There is no direct evidence that May learned of the Benewitz ruling. However, the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the circumstances is that May either learned of the ruling or intentionally avoided learning of it. Clearly May acted with the purpose of thwarting the arbitration procedure and the court order of June 4, 1980.
NMDU business agent Miraglia acted in defiance of the Benewitz status quo ruling and of the June 4, 1980 court order by virtue of his failure to advise the NMDU members at ...