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MATHEWSON v. WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION (01/15/59)

January 15, 1959

MATHEWSON, APPELLANT,
v.
WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION



Appeal, No. 237, March T., 1958, from judgment of Superior Court, April T., 1957, No. 90, reversing judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, Sept. T., 1955, No. 31, in case of George A. Mathewson et al. v. Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

Albert C. Shapira, with him Chester B. Scholl, for appellants.

John G. Wayman, with him Leonard L. Scheinholtz, Fred T. Fruit, and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen and Bok, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 394 Pa. Page 519]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO.

The plaintiffs in this case are salaried employees of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Sharon and are members of the Sharon Westinghouse Employees Association, a union which entered into a collective bargaining contract with Westinghouse. On September 1, 1954, these employees, with approximately 139 other salaried employees, were given what was known as an Emergency Furlough because of a strike instituted by hourly paid employees, who belonged to another union. The salaried employees were not involved in the strike. The furlough, which was one without pay, ended on October 5, 1954, including within its period the holiday of Labor Day, September 6, 1954.

Section XII, subsection 2 of the collective bargaining contract, provides that: "Basic hours on an observed holiday will be credited as time worked for salaried employes." On the basis of this provision, the plaintiffs requested pay for Labor Day. It was refused and the plaintiffs brought an action in assumpsit for the respective amounts allegedly due them. The Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County entered judgment in their favor and the defendant corporation appealed

[ 394 Pa. Page 520]

    to the Superior Court, which reversed the lower court. This Court allowed allocatur.

The original contract of November 1, 1950, between the plaintiffs' union and Westinghouse provided for seven annual paid holidays, namely, New Year's Day, Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The contract also stated that holidays occurring on Sunday would be observed on Monday. Since the Westinghouse plant in Sharon did not work on Saturdays, it followed that if a holiday fell on that day the employees enjoyed no paid leisure that day because they would not have worked on that day anyway. Thus, in September, 1952, the contract between the union and the corporation was amended to provide that when a holiday coincided with a Saturday, the employees would be accorded a free day during the week, the exact date of which would be agreed upon between the union and local management. Under this arrangement the free day could, and ordinarily would, occur many days after the particular holiday in whose honor it was celebrated. This chronological displacement thus could only mean that the employee was given the vested right of an established monetary benefit entirely removed from the intrinsic meaning and significance of the holiday itself. Therefore, in effect, the employee was guaranteed each year payment for seven days over and above what he was entitled to for the days actually worked.

On this basis, the plaintiffs contend that they have the legal right to pay for Labor Day of 1954, even though that day was parenthesized within the furlough period.

The defendant company, on the contrary, resists payment on the basis of subsection (b) of Section IX of the contract which says: "Emergency Furloughs are periods off ...


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