Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in cases of In re: Claim of Michael O. Mummert, No. B-181372; Claim of David L. Ports, No. B-181373; Claim of Thomas J. Staub, No. B-181374; Claim of Dean Stahl, No. B-181375; Claim of David George Bubb, No. B-181376; Claim of Raymond E. Gass, No. B-181377; Claim of Richard C. Brady, No. B-181378; Claim of Thomas E. Long, No. B-181379; Claim of Benton R. Wolff, No. B-181380, and Claim of Robert Meckley, No. B-181381.
Victor Dell'Alba, Dell'Alba, Heim, Lecates & Baldauff, for petitioners.
Richard Lengler, Associate Counsel, with him Paul A. Sneed, Associate Counsel, and Richard L. Cole, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish, and Judges Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 561]
The question here is whether the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review correctly concluded that claimants,*fn1 employees of the J.C. Eisenhart Company, were ineligible for benefits under Section 402(d) of the Unemployment Compensation Law,*fn2 on the basis that their layoff period, after a strike had ended, was nevertheless due to the strike.
From the board's key findings and the board's brief, we draw the facts:
[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 562]
As the board notes in its brief, the normal production operation work of this wallpaper company "begins in the printing department and proceeds from there to the finishing department." The board's findings, referring to "a huge backlog in the finishing department," state that "[t]his backlog existed prior to the commencement of the work stoppage," which consisted of a strike called by claimants' union. Claimants, all but one of whom*fn3 were employed in the printing department, were not called back when the strike ended. The board's brief notes that, if there had been no strike, the company would have been required to take steps to reduce the pre-existing backlog, and adds:
The several options available to the company would have included laying off some people from the printing department; working the finishing department overtime; waiting until the scheduled two-week vacation shutdown in August, and then asking for volunteers to work in the finishing the second week of the shutdown; or some combination of any or all of these measures (N.T. 9, 10 - 10/25/79). The work stoppage, however, eliminated at least one of the company's options, working during the vacation shutdown, because the stoppage continued through the period of the scheduled shutdown (N.T. 10 - 10/25/79). Further, the work stoppage changed the economic context in which the company eventually had to deal with the backlog. This resulted when the company continued to fill orders for customers out of stock during the work stoppage thus seriously
[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 563]
depleting the stock reserve (N.T. 4, 5 - 10/25/79).
As the same brief puts it, "[c]onsequently, when the work stoppage ended, the company elected to deal with the backlog in finishing by not immediately resuming operations ...