Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Richard Czuba, No. B-173726.
Frank J. Lucchino, for petitioners.
Charles G. Hasson, Assistant Attorney General, with him Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Mencer, Craig and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 232]
Richard Czuba and other similarly situated claimants (petitioners) have appealed from a decision of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which affirmed a decision of the referee, which in turn affirmed a determination of the Office (then Bureau) of Employment Security (OES) that a monthly pension supplement paid petitioners should be deducted from their weekly unemployment compensation benefits. We affirm.
The petitioners had been employed by the Copperweld Corporation. That employment was permanently terminated on December 15, 1978, when the plant at which the petitioners worked was partially shut down. Under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, the petitioners became eligible for pension
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 233]
plan benefits upon the involuntary termination of their employment. These pension plan benefits included a regular monthly pension payment and, for those employees who were under the age of 62, a supplemental payment of $300 per month until they attained age 62.
The petitioners, all under age 62, applied for unemployment compensation benefits. The OES determined that they were eligible for benefits but that Section 404(d)(iii) of the Unemployment Compensation Law, Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. § 804(d)(iii), required that $139 per week be deducted from the benefit amount, leaving a net weekly benefit of $4. This deduction was based on the sum of the regular monthly pension payment and the $300-per-month supplemental payment. The sole issue in this appeal is whether it was proper to treat the supplemental payment as "that part of a retirement pension or annuity . . . received by [each eligible employe] under a pension plan to which a base-year employer of such employe has contributed which is in excess of forty dollars ($40) per week." Id. The appellants argue that the supplemental payment was not a pension for purposes of Section 404(d)(iii) of the Unemployment Compensation Law but was a hardship or termination payment not subject to being used in calculating unemployment compensation benefits.
The Board found, on substantial evidence, that, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, supplemental benefits in the amount of $300 were to be paid each month to those employees who (1) were under the age of 62 and (2) had elected to receive premature retirement benefits after their employment was terminated by a plant shutdown but before normal retirement age. The benefits were to be
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 234]
paid only to persons who were also receiving regular ...