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Jury Finds Republication Of True Article Libeled Union

December 19, 1987

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ A labor union libeled another when it reprinted a newspaper story about the second organization and that no longer was true by the time it was reprinted, a jury has decided.

The jury awarded $2 million in damages and interest Thursday to the National Association of Government Employees and its president, Kenneth T. Lyons.

NAGE and Lyons contended that the rival American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees libeled them by republishing a syndicated column by Jack Anderson that reported Lyons was the target of a federal investigation.

NAGE and Lyons did not dispute that the article was true when it was published Oct. 31, 1972, their lawyer, John R. Mahoney, said Friday.

″It may have been true that there were ongoing investigations in 1972, but there sure as hell weren’t in 1975 and 1976,″ when the AFSCME republished the article, Mahoney said.

AFSCME reprinted the article and distributed it at state facilities in Cranston and Newport, where workers were scheduled to choose which of the two unions would represent them, Mahoney said. AFSCME won both elections by fairly substantial margins.

Milton Stanzler, AFSCME’s attorney, did not dispute that the union reprinted the story. But he said the reprint clearly included the date that it was originally published.

″It’s OK to report that Joseph Biden plagiarized 20 years ago when he was in school,″ Stanzler said, referring to allegations that drove the Delaware senator from the presidential race this summer. ″What we said was, three years ago, Mr. Lyons was under investigation. Is that any different?

″We felt the (workers) at the time had a right to know that Mr. Lyons was under investigation on Oct. 31, 1972,″ he said.

Stanzler said he would appeal the verdict.

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