2004-11-12 / Community

Court Dismisses Duane Reade Lawsuit Against Union

The Supreme Court of New York has dismissed a defamation suit brought by Duane Reade against officials of Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW, AFL-CIO, the union representing 2,600 workers at 142 of its stores.

In his decision, Judge Louis B. York found that Local 338, President John R. Durso and Secretary-Treasurer John DiMartino had not defamed the retailer by referring to it as “New York’s greediest employer” and a “bad neighbor,” on union materials and its website. Instead, the court found, the statements were “opinion, and therefore can never be false.” Further, it ruled that other factual allegations made were “merely reprints from credible sources” such as New York Post and therefore protected by the First Amendment.

“The court saw right through this ridiculous lawsuit,” Local 338 President John R. Durso said. “This is just another attempt by Duane Reade to harass its workers by going after union leadership instead of following the law and bargaining a fair contract.”

This ruling is part of an ongoing labor dispute at Duane Reade.

Despite an election where 93 percent of employees who cast a ballot voted in favor of affiliation between ATC and Local 338, Duane Reade has refused to acknowledge the union and to negotiate a contract for more than two years.

In response, ATC/Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, AFL-CIO has launched a “Dwayne Greed” campaign that calls for an end to Duane Reade’s unfair labor practices, and demands that the giant retailer bargain for a contract. On September 15, the National Labor Relations Board upheld a ruling against Duane Reade made by an Administrative Law Judge earlier this year; as a result of this ruling, the union estimates that Duane Reade owes more than $30 million to its employee benefit funds.

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