Appeals in cases of In Re: Claim of Robert E. McGowan, No. B-178908 and Claim of George McGary, Jr., No. B-178907.
Louie M. Ligouri, with him Ky Van Nguyen, for petitioners.
Francine Ostrovsky, Assistant Attorney General, with her, Elsa D. Newman-Silverstine, Assistant Attorney General, Richard Wagner, Chief Counsel, and Harvey Bartle, III, Attorney General, for respondents.
Judges Mencer, Craig and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 251]
Claimants George McGary, Jr. and Robert E. McGowan, unsuccessful in their application for unemployment compensation benefits, appeal from a board*fn1 order affirming the referee's conclusion that they were ineligible because they were guilty of willful misconduct.*fn2 Because the cases arose from the same series of events, we will treat the claimants' appeals jointly.
The claimants were employed by Consolidation Coal Company (employer). Claimant McGary, a union representative, and chairman of the mine committee,
[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 252]
was a roof bolter; claimant McGowan, also a union representative, and chairman of the safety committee, was a bratticeman. Both were suspended with intent to discharge on May 21, 1979 for their actions in connection with a work stoppage which occurred at the mine site on May 18, 1979.
The stoppage was precipitated by the employer's refusal to pay a mine employee for two hours of work on May 17; the dispute centered on whether the employee was entitled to leave the mine early because his boots were wet inside.
In concluding that the claimants were ineligible for benefits under Section 402(e), the board found that each of the claimants "interfered with the management of the mine and through his own actions condoned, encouraged and instigated the work stoppage at approximately 8:00 a.m. on [May 18]*fn3 which lasted through two shifts." The board also found that the claimants, as union representatives, had a duty under the collective bargaining agreement to persuade the other employees to cease the work stoppage.
Thus, we must resolve whether the claimants acted as the board found they did,*fn4 and whether those actions constitute willful misconduct as a matter of law.