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HARRIS UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION CASE. INTERNATIONAL FURNITURE COMPANY v. UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD REVIEW. (01/21/58)

January 21, 1958

HARRIS UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION CASE. INTERNATIONAL FURNITURE COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW.



Appeals, Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, Oct. T., 1957, from decision of Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, July 13, 1956, Decision No. B-42203, in re claim of Walter R. Harris. Decision reversed.

COUNSEL

O. W. Vanderlin, with him Joseph M. McNerney, and McNerney, Page & Vanderlin, for appellants.

Sydney Reuben, Assistant Attorney General, with him Thomas D. McBride, Attorney General, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ.

Author: Wright

[ 185 Pa. Super. Page 236]

OPINION BY WRIGHT, J.

The claims of Walter R. Harris and seven others in similar position were disapproved by the Bureau of Employment Security upon a finding that claimants had voluntarily terminated their employment, and were therefore ineligible for benefits under Section 402(b) of the Unemployment Compensation Law. Act of 1936, P.L. [1937] 2897, 402(b), 43 P.S. 802(b). The Referee reversed the decision of the Bureau and allowed benefits. The Board of Review adopted the Referee's findings and conclusions, and affirmed his decision. This appeal by the employer followed.

There is no material dispute concerning the factual situation. International Furniture Company is engaged

[ 185 Pa. Super. Page 237]

    in the manufacture of furniture. One of its plants, employing approximately four hundred production workers, is located in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. The Upholsters' International Union of North America, AFL-CIO, was attempting to organize the plant. The Union had obtained signatures on a number of authorization cards and requested the Company for recognition as the certified bargaining agent for the employes without petitioning the National Labor Relations Board to hold a vote.*fn1 The Company refused to comply with this request but indicated its willingness to abide by the result of an election. On November 12, 1955, the claimant, along with twelve other employes, established a picket line which was maintained until January 11, 1956. Prior to the establishment of the picket line, the employes were informed that any of them who went out on a recognition strike would be subject to replacement. All but eight of the striking employes reported back to work within a few days. Production continued normally and there was no shutdown of the plant. On January 11, 1956, the eight striking employes decided to discontinue picketing, and requested that they be put back to work. They were advised that they had been replaced and that no work was available for them. Thereafter the Union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor

[ 185 Pa. Super. Page 238]

Relations Board, which refused to issue a complaint. On appeal, the action of the National Labor Relations Board was sustained by the General Council.

As previously indicated, the Bureau found that there was a voluntary termination of employment under Section 402(b). The reasoning of the Referee, affirmed by the Board, was that there was a stoppage of work because of a labor dispute, hence the ineligibility provision of Section 402(b) was not applicable.*fn2 He therefore concluded that claimants' unemployment after January 11, 1956, was involuntary. To sustain this conclusion, and this is in effect conceded by appellees' able counsel, we must interpret the term "stoppage of work", as used in the statute, to mean the cessation of work by an individual employe. While the statute does not define the term "stoppage of work", nor has it been expressly defined in any Pennsylvania case which has been cited or which our research has disclosed, we are clearly of the opinion that the term refers to cessation of work in the plant or place of employment, and not to cessation of work by ...


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