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Newspaper Guild/Cwa of Albany v. Hearst Corp.

June 11, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe District Court Judge


I. Introduction

Plaintiff The Newspaper Guild/CWA of Albany, AFL-CIO-CLC, commenced this action against defendant The Hearst Corporation, doing business as The Capital Newspaper Division, The Hearst Corporation, seeking to compel arbitration under a collective bargaining agreement. (See Compl., Dkt. No. 1:2.) Pending are the Guild and Hearst's motions for summary judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 25, 26.) For the reasons that follow, Hearst's motion is denied, the Guild's motion is granted, and the parties are ordered to submit the matter to arbitration.

II. Background

The Guild is a labor organization that represents a bargaining unit of Hearst's employees. (See Pl. SMF ¶ 1, Dkt. No. 26:1.) Hearst is a publisher, of among other things, the Albany Times Union and the Sunday Times Union, two newspapers of general circulation in the Albany, New York area. (See id. at ¶ 2.)

On December 1, 2005, the Guild and Hearst entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that was effective from August 1, 2004, to August 1, 2008. (See id. at ¶ 3.) Section 10(E) of the CBA, which outlines the grievance procedure, provides that: "Any formal grievance involving the interpretation or application of this agreement may be submitted to final and binding arbitration." (Krim Decl., Ex. A, CBA at 20, Dkt. No. 25:4.) Section 13, which is titled "Dues Checkoff," states that:

Upon an employee's voluntary written assignment, the Company shall deduct weekly from the salary account of such employee and pay to the Guild on the fifteenth (15th) day of each month, but in no event later than the twentieth (20th), all membership dues levied by the Guild for the current month.... An employee's voluntary written assignment shall remain effective in accordance with the terms of such assignments. All such deductions shall be made in conformity with local, state or federal legislation. (Id. at 29.) The CBA also includes a dues checkoff form, which reads:

To: Capital Newspapers Division - The Hearst Corporation I hereby assign to the Newspaper Guild of Albany, NY from any salary earned or to be earned by me as your employee, an amount equal to all membership dues lawfully levied against me by the Guild for each calendar month following the date of this assignment as certified by the treasurer of the Newspaper Guild of Albany, NY.

I hereby authorize and request you to check off and deduct such amounts during the month for which such dues are levied and the Guild so notifies you, from any salary then standing to my credit as your employee, and to remit the amount deducted to the Newspaper Guild of Albany, NY, not later than the twentieth (20th) day of that month.

This assignment and authorization shall remain in effect until revoked by me, but shall be irrevocable for a period of one (1) year from the date appearing below or until the termination of the [CBA] between yourself and the Guild whichever occurs sooner. I further agree and direct that this assignment and authorization shall be renewed automatically and shall be irrevocable for successive periods of one (1) year each or for the period of each succeeding applicable collective agreement between yourself and the Guild, whichever period shall be shorter, unless written notice of its revocation is given by me to yourself and to the Guild by registered mail not more than thirty (30) days and not less than fifteen (15) days prior to the expiration of each period of one (1) year, or of each applicable [CBA] between yourself and the Guild, whichever occurs sooner. Such notice of revocation shall become effective for the calendar month following the calendar month in which you receive it.

This assignment and authorization supersedes all previous agreements and authorization heretofore given to you by me in relation to my Guild membership dues.

Employee's Signature ________________

Date ____________ (Id. at 29-30.)

Prior to August 2008, the parties began negotiating for a new collective bargaining agreement. (See Def. SMF ¶ 6-7, Dkt. No. 25:2.) During these negotiations, the Guild and Hearst agreed to extend the terms of the CBA by an interim agreement dated June 15, 2008. (See id. at ¶ 5.) Under the interim agreement, either ...

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