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BAKER v. NEWSPAPER & GRAPHIC COMMUNS. UNION

October 24, 1978

Paul J. BAKER et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
NEWSPAPER AND GRAPHIC COMMUNICATIONS UNION, LOCAL 6, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: OBERDORFER

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

 Plaintiffs, pressmen employed by the Evening Star Newspaper Co. (the Star), are members of Local 6 (the Local) of the International Printing and Graphic Communications Union (the International). Plaintiffs bring this suit against the unions and the Star alleging violation of their federal rights to fair representation in collective bargaining based on 29 U.S.C. § 159(a), and to free speech and participation in connection with union business meetings, based on 29 U.S.C. § 411.

 Plaintiffs claim that these union merger agreements required that all stereotypers displaced when the Star closed its stereotype department be relegated to the bottom of the pressroom priority list. If stereotypers had been so "endtailed" instead of being "dovetailed" as agreed to in 1976 by the Local and the Star, plaintiffs would enjoy a higher priority than they do now with respect to choice work assignments and job protection in the event of lay-offs.

 The Court concluded earlier that it has jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' complaint and denied defendants' motions to dismiss it, based upon 29 U.S.C. §§ 301, 401. The case is now before the Court on defendants' motions for summary judgment and plaintiffs' motion for a partial one. On the basis of facts established by the parties' statements of material facts and genuine issues and by undisputed documentary evidence, the Court concludes that there was no actionable violation of the endtailing provisions of the union merger agreements and that there was, therefore, no violation of plaintiffs' right to fair representation. Nor is there any factual or legal basis for the plaintiffs' claim that their rights to free speech and participation under 29 U.S.C. § 411 were violated. The findings of fact and conclusions of law which lead to these decisions follow.

 II. Findings of Fact

 1. In 1970 the Star obtained National Labor Relations Board approval of its decision to assign to the Photo Engravers Union some of the tasks theretofore performed by members of the then Stereotypers Union. Washington, D.C. Stereotypers Union No. 19, 181 NLRB 784 (1970). This NLRB approval was based in part upon the Star's representation that it would guarantee all stereotypers then in its employ an opportunity to work "until retirement or the occurrence of some other natural contingency" so that the reduction in force would be accomplished by "attrition." Id. at 787, 788, 789. The Star, through its Director of Industrial Relations, Harold Boyd, made a similar representation to David Barr, attorney for the Stereotypers Union (letter of April 25, 1969, ex. 1 to Defendant Star's Memorandum In Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgment.)

 2. The 1973 agreement effecting the national merger of the Stereotypers' Union and the Pressmens' Union provided among other things that:

 
(a) "Where there is a loss of journeymen jobs because of a conversion (for example, letterpress to offset) the journeymen members within the plant who are displaced because of such conversion and willing to retrain will be given such an opportunity before new journeymen . . . are employed.
 
(b) The merger would not "affect, interfere with or change the continuing status or rights, duties and obligations (of either union) with respect to third parties (and would not) impair or otherwise affect . . . the rights and obligations of any local . . . under and pursuant to any collective bargaining agreement . . ."

 3. The Constitution and Laws of the International formed by the merger provided that, among other things:

 
(b) "Priority shall be maintained in the operation of any sub-line and also in filling regular positions from such sub-line."
 
(c) "Local unions shall establish regulations permitting a (priority) holder to engage in pursuits or gainful occupation other than that in which priority is held without loss of situation or priority, during which period the member exercising this privilege shall employ a substitute."
 
(d) Any individual local member may appeal any local decision adverse to him to the International. Appeals are taken successively to the President, to the Board and to the next International Convention.

 4. The agreement merging the parallel local unions of stereotypers and pressmen provided that should journeymen lose jobs because of a conversion:

 
"the journeyman members displaced and willing to be retrained will be given the opportunity. They will go to the last ...

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