Samuel Krimsly, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
William L. Hammond, Special Deputy Atty. Gen., Charles J. Margiotti, Atty. Gen., for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross, Arnold and Gunther, JJ., concurring.
[ 168 Pa. Super. Page 511]
The Board denied appellant's claim because he was 'a member of an organization * * * participating in, or directly interested in, the labor dispute which caused the stoppage of work', as provided by the Unemployment Compensation Law, § 402(d), 43 P.S. § 802.
[ 168 Pa. Super. Page 512]
Appellant admits that he was a member of the United Mine Workers of America when it declared a strike at the mine of the Jeff Coal Company on September 14, 1949. He was an assistant mine foreman, and obeying the requirements of the Acts of June 3, 1943, P.L. 848, § 1, 52 P.S. § 11, and June 30, 1947, P.L. 1183, § 2, 43 P.S. § 215.2, he did not authorize or participate in the strike.*fn1 The mine was closed and appellant was unemployed for the duration of the strike. He had become a member of the Union while he was a miner, and after his promotion continued his membership by regular payment of dues, although as a supervisory employe he was not required to maintain his membership. He did not, and probably was not allowed, to attend its meetings; was not permitted to participate in its benefits; and the express terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the employes excluded him from its operation. He maintained his membership so that he could promote more harmonious labor relations with its members and to protect himself against the day when he might ne reduced in rank.*fn2 He based his claim upon the limited, qualified character of his membership and his motive for continuing his connection with the Union.
[ 168 Pa. Super. Page 513]
Nevertheless, he was a member, and the Law unequivocally disqualifies a member from compensation. The legislature drew no distinction between various classes of members: active and honorary, sustaining and contributing, annual and life, voting and social, required and voluntary, real and token; between members who actively participate in organizational deliberations and those who passively accept its determinations; between members who are directly and primarily interested in the realization of union objectives and those who merely preserve their status as members for other and worthy secondary motives. They are all members, and the legislature has declared that members, without distinction or qualification, shall not receive compensation benefits when the organization participates, or is directly interested, in a labor dispute which causes a strike. In the administration and construction of the Law neither the Board nor this Court can draw a line which the General Assembly has not delineated.
It is true that the Acts quotd, note 1, supra, taken together, forbade appellant as an assistant mine foreman from engaging in a strike, and to that extent he could not perform a duty resting upon members of the Union. But his paramount obligation to the Commonwealth did not cancel his membership in the Union, not any more than a civil service employe who is forbidden to engage in partisan political activities loses his membership in his political party. The legislative mandate went no further than to prohibit his striking and, if he chose to acknowledge another loyalty which he could only partially serve,*fn3 he was free to continue
[ 168 Pa. Super. Page 514]
his Union membership. The legislature might have exempted him and others in his position from the general operation of § 402(d), but for us to write the exception into the Law ...