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QUAKER OATS COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/01/82)

decided: March 1, 1982.

THE QUAKER OATS COMPANY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT. CEREAL WORKERS LOCAL UNION NO. 221, AFL-CIO, INTERVENOR



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Frank D. Micelli, No. B-183655.

COUNSEL

Michael T. Welch, with him Norman I. White, of McNees, Wallace & Nurick, for petitioner.

No appearance for respondent.

Paul J. Dellasega, with him Ira H. Weinstock, for intervenor.

President Judge Crumlish and Judges Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 73]

The Quaker Oats Company appeals from the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review's order affirming the referee's award of benefits, for the weeks ending April 28, 1979 through May 26, 1979, to Frank D. Micelli, Charles J. Minnich and Leander D. Krist, three token claimants.*fn1 The referee concluded that the claimants' unemployment during that period, although related to a labor dispute, was the result of a lockout by the employer within the meaning of Section 402 (d) of the Unemployment Compensation Law.*fn2

The collective bargaining agreements between the company and the claimants' union had expired on April 1, 1979, after numerous unsuccessful negotiation sessions. The following day, the parties signed an interim agreement stating that the plant would remain open under the terms and conditions of the expired agreements, and that, until a new contract was negotiated, the union would not strike and the company would not institute a lockout without twenty-four hours written notice.

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 74]

Negotiations continued, but in late April, 1979, the company alleged that incidents of sabotage had occurred in the plant, and that the employees had begun to engage in a concerted work slowdown and a refusal to volunteer to work overtime shifts.

On April 26, 1979, the company announced its intention to shut down the plant, and rejected the union's subsequent offer to continue to work, responding that, "[a]t this time we have no reason to expect that normal operations could be resumed should the plant be reopened."

The central issue in this case is whether, before the company's lockout, the claimants were the first party to breach the terms and conditions of the prior collective bargaining agreement by engaging in acts of sabotage, participating in a production slowdown, and refusing to work overtime. Philco Corp. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 430 Pa. 101, 242 A.2d 454 (1968).

The referee's decision, which recited his conclusion that the work stoppage was caused by the company, regrettably lacks findings of fact needed to ...


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