updated 10/2/2006 1:19:01 PM ET 2006-10-02T17:19:01

The Supreme Court sided Monday with Detroit newspaper unions and employees who were fired for their actions during an 18-month strike in the mid-1990s.

Justices declined to hear the newspapers' appeal of a National Labor Relations Board ruling ordering the partnership that prints, distributes and sells advertising for the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press to reinstate fired employees.

The workers lost their job after the newspapers said they blocked entrances at a distribution facility and the Detroit News Building in violation of court orders during the strike that ran from July 1995 to February 1997.

The labor relations board determined that the employees had not engaged in misconduct, but were instead exercising their right to strike. It ordered the employees reinstated with backpay.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the board's ruling. Solicitor General Paul Clement, representing the labor relations board, urged justices not to take the appeal from the Detroit Newspaper Agency.

The Detroit News was owned by Gannett Co. during the strike, while the Detroit Free Press was owned by Knight-Ridder Newspapers Inc. The Free Press now belongs to Gannett and the News is owned by MediaNews Group Inc.

The case is Detroit Newspaper Agency v. National Labor Relations Board, 05-1427.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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