Earlier this month, in our case involving the yellow contract retirees, Lee – after receiving several extensions – finally replied to our motion. They did this several ways. First, they counter-sued and seem to want to get a decision under ERISA – the federal law regarding pension plans. Now, our suit wasn’t filed to have anything decided under ERISA; it was filed to compel arbitration. The legal differences and reasoning behind it all gets rather complicated and I don’t care to lay out points of strategy on such a public forum, so I will let it go at that.
With their filing, Lee has gone off in a slightly different direction. In their counter-suit, they ask the court to declare (under the ‘Declaratory Judgement Act”), that they have the right to do what they did under ERISA. Lee doesn’t stop there though and their suit doesn’t just name the Guild – it names the retirees as defendants as well! Lee has filed what they are characterizing as a class-action suit and want to get the court to not only issue a declaratory judgement stating that they have the right to do what they did under ERISA; they also want the court to declare that our retirees can’t sue them in a class-action suit anytime in the future (Did somebody hear something? Are people getting nervous?).
Most legal scholars would agree that a class-action suit involves a bunch of wronged parties suing a lone, guilty party. It seems to me – an admitted layman – that it’s a bit of a stretch to think that one party suing a bunch of different parties is the same thing. But there you have it. Lee – the company that paid more for a single paper than their entire media empire is now worth – has gone backwards through the looking glass again (however, a quick look online at their new attorneys and one learns that their firm does have a department that handles such things, so who can say).
But – curiouser and curiouser – that’s not the end of it. To make matters worse, Lee named three seemingly random retirees as “class representatives” and had them served with subpoenas. One presumes that Lee somehow expects these three retirees, who are living on fixed incomes and who recently have had to purchase health care coverage, to be able to hire attorneys to represent them in federal court.
Then today, Lee struck again. Going for another declaratory judgement, the corporation filed another counter-suit. This time they filed against the Guild and our blue contract retirees and they named three more retirees as class representatives for that group as well. What a world.
As I stated earlier, it is not my intention to discuss pending legal maneuvers, so I will just say that the Guild is busy preparing its response.