2004-01-16 / Community

State Supreme Court Throws Out Duane Reade ‘Frivolous’ Law Suit Against Retail Workers Union

State Supreme Court Throws Out Duane Reade ‘Frivolous’ Law Suit Against Retail Workers Union

On December 31, 2003 the New York State Supreme Court dismissed a frivolous lawsuit brought by Duane Reade against Local 338 of the Retail Workers Union.

The suit alleged "tortuous wrongs" were committed by Local 338, its President John R. Durso and Secretary-Treasurer John DeMartino, whereby they acted unlawfully in organizing activities, trespassed on the employer’s property and interfered with employees while they were helping customers, and "defamed" the retailer by charging that it interfered with its employees’ right to cast a free and uncoerced vote. The court rejected Duane Reade’s arguments and dismissed all charges.

Despite a landslide vote where 93 percent of workers voted in favor of affiliation with ATC/Local 338, the retailer contends that the union does not represent the workers and is acting without the employees’ authorization in attempting to negotiate a contract. Duane Reade employees have been without a contract for 23 months, and during that time the company has refused to acknowledge the union and to negotiate a contract. ATC/Local 338 represents 2,600 employees at 142 Duane Reade stores.

"We fully expected the courts to throw out this ridiculous suit, and feel that this is just further vindication that the union is on the correct side of the law in this battle," said Local 338 President John R. Durso. "By bringing a baseless suit like this, Duane Reade is continuing to prove that it will do everything possible to avoid bargaining with the union its employees chose to represent them."

Duane Reade recently announced that it will be acquired by an affiliate of Oak Hill Capital Partners, L.P., and that the retailer’s Chairman, CEO and President Anthony Cuti will continue in such capacities following the merger. "Mr. Cuti has made it clear over the past two years that he has no intention of recognizing ATC/Local 338 RWDSU," Durso said. "We’re hopeful that the new entity, Oak Hill Capital and its founder Robert Bass, will have a different viewpoint and encourage Mr. Cuti to sit down with the sole collective bargaining agent for these workers." ATC/Local 338 RWDSU has launched a "Dwayne Greed Campaign," calling for an end to Duane Reade’s unfair labor practices, and demanding the giant retailer bargain a contract. Local 338 is urging all New Yorkers to go to the website www. dwaynegreed. com to learn more about Duane Reade’s method of threats, lies and intimidation of its employees, and for information about how to join the Dwayne Greed campaign.

The National Labor Relations Board has issued numerous complaints against Duane Reade, according to union sources, including that the company has not provided ATC/ Local 338 with an up-to-date list of employees; harassed the union’s agents, initiated police action against the agents and refused to bargain in good faith.

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