The Justice Department is investigating possible violations of Federal anti-trust laws in the action by several truck drivers in New York, who an Tuesday refused to deliver copies of the Trib, a new newspaper which began publication on Monday.
The Trib, which printed and distributed 250,000 copies of its first edition on Monday, found that unionized drivers for several of its 28 distributors refused to pick up their papers on the second pay, apparently, because the trucking firm that delivered the issues to the distributors was not unionized.
The drivers took the action, with no prior notice, about midnight Monday night. Because of their refusal to take the papers. The Trib halted the presses after 225,000 of its scheduled 265,000 papers were printed. Only 90,000 reached the working distributors.
On Tuesday, The Trib asked the State Supreme Court in Manhattan for $50 million in damages and a preliminary injunction to end the job action.The filing named 9 of the 28 distributors and the Newspaper Mailers and Deliverery Union, which represents the drivers.
Justice Hyman Korn issued a temporary restraining order and scheduled a hearing for Monday asking the defendants to show cause why they should not be permanently barred from blocking delivery.
More than 250,000 copies of Wednesday's Trib were printed and distributed by all 28 distributors. the lead story in that paper was about the drivers' actions the day before.
Trib publisher Leonard Staffir, said yesterday that the drivers "were trying to destroy this newspaper. At a time when the city is getting off its knees, we are not going to go down on ours."
He said the unions were angry because The Trib is printed in New Jersey plants by non-union printers, and delivered to the distributors by non-union drivers.
The Trib editorial staff works in offices on Third Avenue in New York City. Their copy is prepared on computer terminals and transmitted to a publishing house in New Jersey, where Trib layout editors put the paper into final form.
New York City union leaders have been critical of the paper, because they say it brings no jobs to New York, but threatens those union people who do have jobs at the city's three other dailies, the Times, the Post and the Daily News.
Saffir's claim that the unions were conspiring to kill his newspaper, and the fact that one of the distributors involved is owned by the rival Daily News first got the Justice Department interested in the case.
After a preliminary investigation on Tuesday, the New York office of the anti-trust division reportedly decided there was enough evidence to justify a further probe.