Eastwood, Goldmann and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Eastwood, S.j.a.d.
This action is for alleged breach by defendant of a collective bargaining agreement and for the recovery of two weeks' wages because of defendant's failure to give notice of the suspension of its business. The issue was submitted to the Superior Court, Law Division, Hudson County, upon the pleadings and a stipulation of facts in lieu of pretrial and the taking of proofs. The court entered judgment in favor of the defendant, from which judgment the plaintiffs appeal.
The stipulation of facts states: The plaintiff, Hudson County Newspaper Guild, Local 42 of the American Newspaper Guild C.I.O., is an unincorporated labor organization representing former employees of the defendant's editorial department; that defendant published The Jersey Observer continuously for many years until November 17, 1951, when it suspended its publication and terminated its business. As a consequence thereof, all of defendant's employees lost their jobs.
The pertinent provisions of the collective bargaining agreement dated June 15, 1951 and in effect on the date publication was suspended and business ceased, read as follows:
"Article VIII-Severance Pay
1. Upon dismissal, an employee upon request shall receive a written notice from the Publisher or his agents stating the cause for his dismissal.
2. Upon dismissal, an employee shall receive cash severance pay in a lump sum, equal to one week's pay for every twenty-six weeks or major fraction thereof, such pay to be computed at the highest weekly rate of salary received by the employee during his service with the Publisher. The maximum of such dismissal pay shall not exceed an amount equivalent to 30 weeks' pay.
3. Severance pay need not be paid in the event of proven theft, self-provoked discharge for the purpose of collecting severance pay or for dismissal under the maintenance of membership clause.
3. In the event of termination of employment, an employee shall receive accrued vacation pay.
1. There shall be no discharges except for just and sufficient cause. Except in the case of proven dishonesty, or self-provoked discharge for the purpose of collecting severance pay, the Guild shall be notified in writing at least two weeks in advance of any discharge, with the reason for the dismissal stated in such notice.
2. There shall be no discharge as a result of putting this agreement into effect.
3. There shall be no discharge of or other discrimination against any employee because of his membership or activity in the Guild. There shall be no interference or attempt to interfere with the operation of the Guild.
4. There shall be no imposition of unreasonable duties upon any employee."
Following the suspension of publication and the cessation of business operations, the defendant paid to its employees severance and accrued vacation pay provided for in the aforementioned agreement. It was conceded that defendant did not give the Guild any advance notice of its intention to suspend publication and to terminate the employment of its editorial staff. ...