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INNER CITY BROADCASTING CORP. v. AMERICAN FEDN. OF

May 3, 1984

INNER CITY BROADCASTING CORPORATION, Plaintiff, against AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TELEVISION AND RADIO ARTISTS, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KEENAN

OPINION AND ORDER COMPELLING ARBITRATION

JOHN F. KEENAN, United States District Judge:

 Plaintiff, Inner City Broadcasting Corporation ("Inner"), is the owner of several radio stations including WBLS and WLIB in New York City. Defendant, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists ("AFTRA"), is a labor union representing approximately sixty thousand performers in the fields of radio, television, phonograph recordings and related activities throughout the United States. The parties agree that this dispute arises out of the following set of facts.

 AFTRA is the collective bargaining representative of radio artists employed by Inner at WBLS and WLIB. As such, AFTRA and Inner entered into two bargaining agreements (the "1980 Agreements"), dated February 16, 1980, covering the employment of radio artists at the stations. Each agreement provided for its termination on February 15, 1983, and further provided that at least sixty days prior to its termination the parties would "negotiate in good faith with respect to the terms and conditions of a new contract." Each agreement provided for arbitration of any dispute arising in connection to its terms.

 On or about February 1, 1953, AFTRA employed one Irving Lewis as an Assistant Executive Secretary. In that capacity, Lewis' responsibilities included the negotiation and administration of collective bargaining agreements with employers of AFTRA members, including Inner.

 On June 2, 1981, Lewis and AFTRA entered into an agreement, (the "Lewis-AFTRA Agreement"), providing that in the event of Lewis' retirement he would not without prior consent of AFTRA, which consent would not be unreasonably withheld, accept employment or perform any services for any person, firm or corporation that was either a party to a collective bargaining agreement with AFTRA, or engaged in negotiations with AFTRA with a view to entering into such an agreement.

 On October 27, 1982, Lewis retired from his position with AFTRA for reasons of ill health. Shortly thereafter, he sought to be released from the non-competiton provisions of the Lewis-AFTRA Agreement. His request was denied on November 18, 1982.

 Pursuant to the 1980 Agreements AFTRA notified Inner, by letter dated December 10, 1982, of its desire to negotiate for a new modified agreement. On or about January 10, 1983, the radio station's general manager and AFTRA representatives agreed to meet on February 16, 1983 to begin such negotiations.

 A meeting was held as scheduled on February 16, at which Inner was represented by Irving Lewis. At that meeting it was agreed that the parties would continue operating under the terms of the expired agreement until a new agreement was reached and that a second meeting would be had on February 25, 1983.

 At the February 25 meeting Inner was again represented by Lewis. The next meeting was set for March 4 and the parties also agreed to set aside the week of March 7-11 for future bargaining sessions.

 After the February 25 meeting, AFTRA delivered a letter to Inner objecting to Inner's employment of Lewis as its bargaining representative. On March 3, 1983 AFTRA commenced an arbitration proceeding against Inner in order to remedy what AFTRA contended constituted a breach by Inner of its contractual duty to negotiate in good faith with respect to new collective bargaining agreements both generally and by engaging Lewis as its bargaining representative.

 On or about March 31, 1983, Inner commenced this action in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, for a declaration that the dispute was not arbitrable under the terms of the 1980 Agreements and moved, by Order to Show Cause, for a preliminary injunction staying arbitration. On April 18, 1983, AFTRA removed the case to this Court. On January 5, 1984, Inner moved to dismiss the removal petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Subsequently, AFTRA filed its answer and counterclaim seeking dismissal of the complaint as well as affirmative declaratory relief and an order compelling arbitration and moved this Court for an order compelling arbitration.

 Having carefully reviewed the motions, supporting affidavits and memoranda of law submitted by the parties, having heard oral argument on the motions on March 20, 1984, and for the reasons stated hereafter, plaintiff's motions to dismiss the removal petition and stay arbitration are denied, and defendant's ...


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