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NEW YORK TIMES CO. v. NEWSPAPER & MAIL DELIVERERS'

August 17, 1984

THE NEW YORK TIMES CO., Plaintiff, against NEWSPAPER AND MAIL DELIVERERS' UNION OF NEW YORK AND VICINITY, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KRAM

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SHIRLEY WOHL KRAM, U.S.D.J.

 The above-captioned action is before this Court upon the motion of plaintiff The New York Times Co. ("the Times") for an order pursuant to Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure preliminarily enjoining defendant Newspaper and Mail Deliverers' Union of New York and Vicinity ("NMDU" or "the Union") from engaging in any work stoppage, or otherwise interfering with the Times' operations at its New York City and Carlstadt, New Jersey plants, as a result of the Times' assignment of certain work to members of another union (more fully described below). For the reasons stated below, the Times' motion is GRANTED.

 BACKGROUND

 The Times, a New York corporation with its principal place of business in New York City, is engaged in the publication of a daily newspaper known as "The New York Times." The Times maintains manufacturing facilities in New York City and New Jersey.

 The Union is an incorporated association and serves as the collective bargaining representative for certain employees employed by the Times at its New York City and New Jersey plants.

 The Times and the Union are, and, at all relevant times, were, parties to a collective bargaining agreement ("the Agreement") governing the Times' employment of employees represented by the NMDU. *fn1" The various provisions of the Agreement that are relevant to the factual background or ultimate disposition of this motion are far too lengthy to set out here. The following summary of those provisions should, however, suffice.

 Section 2, among other things, makes it clear that the Agreement is not intended to, and does not, alter the "prevailing conditions" in the mailrooms of the Times' plants insofar as certain tasks were, and are, performed by members of the other unions operating therein.Section 2-H.1.

 Section 16, among other things, establishes an intricate, mandatory grievance resolution procedure for "[a]ll grievances, differences and disputes arising out of the interpretation or application of this Agreement which cannot be settled at the plant level," Section 16-A. The procedure established calls for binding arbitration of disputes and creates mechanisms to obtain speedy relief when necessary. Section 16 further provides that neither party may effect a "change in condition" without the consent of the other party. Section 16-M.3. If a unilateral change is made, the aggrieved party may ask the "Impartial Chairman (Status Quo)" ("status quo arbitrator"), to issue a status quo order directing that conditions be restored to those existing before the change, and maintained as the status quo, pending resolution of the dispute. Section 16-M.4. Finally, Section 16 specifically prohibits strikes, lock-outs, and work stoppages "except as against the party failing to comply with a decision, award or order of" an arbitration panel established by the Agreement. Section 16-N.

 Section 22 indicates that the NMDU has exclusive jurisdiction over the Sta-Hi Newstrack, "including but not limited to, operations, control and clearing jams." Section 22-A.

 The Stay-Hi Newstrack is one of the items of machinery at the Carlstadt plant. It is comprised of three loops, referred to as A, B, and C Loops. One of the functions of the loops is to convey bundles of printed papers for loading and shipment out of the plant for sale to the public.

 Apparently, every night A Loop is cleaned out by members of NMDU. Six nights a week, B and C Loops are cleaned out by members of NMDU. A grievance arose in the summer of 1983 concerning who was entitled to clean out B and C Loops on the seventh night, Saturday night/Sunday morning. For a number of years prior to 1983, the Saturday night/Sunday morning clean up of B and C Loops was performed by members of the New York Mailers Union, Local Six ("the Mailers").

 In June, 1983, the Union filed a grievance seeking to have that work assigned to its members. The Union first applied to the then status quo arbitrator, Professor Thomas G. S. Christensen, for an order requiring the immediate assignment of that work to NMDU members. In a decision apparently issued on or about June 20, 1983, *fn2" the status quo arbitrator indicated that he thought the Union correct in asserting that it had jurisdiction to do the work disputed by virtue of Section 22 (discussed above). Nevertheless, he noted that performance of the task by the Mailers was the "prevailing condition," and, reading the Agreement to avoid conflict between Sections 2-H.1. and 22, declined to "disturb" that practice by requiring any status quo order directing the Times to reassign the work to NMDU members. Exhibit C to Defendant's Verified Answer, pp. 6-9. The status quo arbitrator further reaffirmed prior orders precluding a stoppage of work. Id., p. 9.

 In spite of this decision and order, NMDU members engaged in a work stoppage on June 25, 1983. *fn3" The Times came to this Court on that day and obtained a temporary restraining order against that work stoppage.On Monday, June 27, 1983, the Times filed an action in this Court pursuant to section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 185, and the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 9. Also on June 27, 1983, the status quo arbitrator issued a ruling confirming his prior orders. Exhibit A to Plaintiff's Reply Memorandum. Therein, Professor Christensen said "[p]ending possible peaceful resolution . . . by negotiation, arbitration or other forums . . . a Status Quo Order to the Times requiring immediate assignment of the disputes work to the Union is not justified." Id. (emphasis in original). He further reiterated his ruling that no work stoppage was justified.

 Relying in large part on the Union's violation of the status quo arbitrator's rulings, this Court issued a preliminary injunction on June 30, 1983, against the NMDU forbidding any further work stoppages or interference with the normal operations of the Times' plants in relevant respects. The New York Times Co. v. NMDU, No. 83-4833, slip op. ...


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