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ANN P. HOUCK ET AL. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/12/79)

decided: September 12, 1979.

ANN P. HOUCK ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT; CRAIG HOUSE-TECHNOMA WORKSHOP, INC., INTERVENOR



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of Ann P. Houck, et al., No. B-154044.

COUNSEL

Sandra Reiter Kushner, and Rothman, Gordon, Foreman and Groudine, P.A., for appellants.

GuruJodha Singh Khalsa, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

John E. Lyncheski, and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for intervenors.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 45 Pa. Commw. Page 588]

Ann P. Houck (claimant) has appealed on her own behalf, and on behalf of 29 other claimants, from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) denying unemployment compensation benefits. We affirm.

Claimant was one of 54 employees of Craig House-Technoma Workshop, Inc. (Craig House), a school for emotionally disturbed children. Claimant and some of her fellow employees desired to have the Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 33 (Union) recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for the employees of Craig House. In August 1976, the Union filed petitions for certification as the exclusive bargaining representative with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB). The petition before the PLRB is still pending, but the Union has withdrawn its NLRB petition.

[ 45 Pa. Commw. Page 589]

In April 1977, the Union advised Craig House that some of the employees had voted to strike for recognition of the Union on April 18, 1977. To demonstrate their sincerity, claimant and 23 other employees failed to report to work on April 13, 1977. They were immediately advised that further unauthorized absences would result in discharge. Claimant and 29 other employees nevertheless commenced a strike on April 18, 1977 and established picket lines. As a result, classes were cancelled. By letter dated April 21, 1977, Craig House discharged the striking employees. On July 12, 1977, the striking employees made an unconditional offer to return to work which Craig House rejected.

An unemployment compensation referee held that claimant and her fellow employees were ineligible for benefits for the period of the work stoppage by virtue of Section 402(d) of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law (Act), Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. § 802(d), and that they were ineligible thereafter by virtue of Section 402(e), 43 P.S. § 802(e) (willful misconduct). The Board disallowed further appeal, and this appeal followed.

There is no dispute that claimant is ineligible by virtue of Section 402(d) for the period from the beginning of the strike until she and the other striking employees were discharged. The sole question raised by the claimant is whether she was discharged for willful misconduct and is therefore ineligible for the subsequent period.

Willful misconduct includes a disregard of standards which an employer has a right to expect of an employee. See, e.g., Kentucky Fried Chicken of Altoona, Inc. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 10 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 90, 309 A.2d ...


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