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Chicago Tribune Co. v. National Labor Relations Board

March 19, 1996






On Petition for Review and Cross-Petition for Enforcement of an Order of the National Labor Relations Board No. 13-CA-31544

Before BAUER, ROVNER, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.

BAUER, Circuit Judge.



In the last decade, relations between the Chicago Tribune Company ("Tribune") and the unions representing its employees have fallen somewhat short of labor peace. The acrimony has produced much litigation, and today's case concerns the Tribune's refusal to provide the home addresses of strike replacement employees to the Chicago Web Printing Pressmen's Union ("Pressmen"). After a six-month strike and several requests to the company, the Pressmen brought the matter before the National Labor Relations Board. Although the Board found that the Tribune had committed an unfair labor practice, we deny enforcement of the Board's order.

I. Background

The events leading up to this appeal began at least as early as 1985, when the most recent collective bargaining agreement between the Pressmen and the Chicago Newspaper Publishers' Association, a collective bargaining association to which the Tribune belonged, expired. Negotiations for a new agreement faltered, and on July 18, 1985, the Pressmen's Union, the Chicago Typographical Union, the Chicago Mailers' Union, and the Chicago Paperhandlers' Union commenced a strike against the Tribune. In response to the strike, the Tribune began hiring permanent replacement workers.

Violence ensued shortly thereafter. Incidents ranged from the relatively benign, such as unsolicited orders for food deliveries or magazine subscriptions, to more dangerous activities such as the slashing of tires, death threats, and the stabbing of a Tribune delivery driver. On one occasion, mounted police were called to disperse a mob that had obstructed the path of the Tribune's delivery trucks. Stones thrown by the mob injured one of the truck drivers, a policeman, and other Tribune employees. Following that incident, the Tribune sought and received an injunction to prevent the unions from violent picketing. On January 30, 1986, the striking workers unconditionally offered to return to work. The Tribune created a preferential rehiring list for the returning strikers, and began reinstating them in May 1989.

During the strike and subsequent reinstatement, the affected unions made several requests to the Tribune for the terms of employment, names, and addresses of the replacement employees. The Tribune provided the terms of employment but, at the replacement employees' request, it withheld their names and addresses to protect their property and safety. The Tribune offered to provide the birthdates and social security numbers of the replacements, or to provide the names and addresses to an independent accounting firm that could verify their employment. The unions rejected the Tribune's offers of accommodation and instead filed unfair labor practice charges against the company. The Pressmen's original charge still is pending before the Board. The Board's Regional Director dismissed the Printers' charge. A third charge, brought by the Mailers' Union, already has reached this court. See Chicago Tribune Co. v. NLRB, 965 F.2d 244 (7th Cir. 1992). *fn1

While the initial charges were winding their way through the Board's administrative process and into the federal courts, the Pressmen continued to request the names and addresses of the replacement workers, purportedly so that it could pursue grievances on their behalf. In response, the Tribune offered a variety of alternatives to the Pressmen. These offers included personal communication by Pressmen representatives on company property during non-work times, posting of Pressmen notices on company bulletin boards, distribution of Pressmen information in non-work areas, and any other mutually agreeable alternative to the full disclosure proposed by the Pressmen. In sum, the Tribune responded to each Pressmen request for the information in the same manner--it cooperated with every request except to provide the names and addresses.

On February 4, 1993, the Pressmen again requested a list "of all employees with their current addresses." By this point, the Pressmen knew the names of the replacement employees, it merely wanted their home addresses. The Tribune's press department supervisors informed the replacement employees of the Pressmen request. When one supervisor reported back that the employees felt the same way they had before, the Tribune again denied the request.

This time, the Pressmen filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company. The Board's General Counsel issued a complaint alleging that the Tribune's refusal to provide the information violated its duty to bargain in good faith under secs. 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act. 29 U.S.C. secs. 158(a)(1), 158(a)(5). An Administrative Law Judge found that the Tribune had violated the Act, and on March 31, 1995, the Board adopted the ALJ's findings. The matter is now before us on cross-petitions to review and enforce the Board's order.

II. Standard of Review

We have jurisdiction over the two petitions pursuant to 29 U.S.C. secs. 160(e) and (f). The Board's factual determinations are conclusive when supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Rock-Tenn Co. v. NLRB, 69 F.3d 803, 807 (7th Cir. 1995). The Board's legal conclusions are conclusive unless they are irrational or ...

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