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NANCY BOYLE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/10/86)

decided: June 10, 1986.

NANCY BOYLE, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Nancy Boyle, No. B-233810.

COUNSEL

Norton H. Brainard, III, for petitioner.

Jonathan Zorach, Associate Counsel, with him, James K. Bradley, Associate Counsel, and Charles G. Hasson, Acting Deputy Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Craig and Barry, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 76]

Nancy Boyle, an eight-year employee of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), District Council 47, appeals an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review which affirmed a referee's decision, concluding that Ms. Boyle committed willful misconduct*fn1 by diverting a memorandum from the top of her supervisor's desk in order to produce a copy of it at an investigative

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 77]

    hearing before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). We affirm.

As the District Council 47 bookkeeper, Ms. Boyle maintained the financial records of the main body of the District Council, the District Council's Health and Welfare Fund, its Legal Services Fund, and its Building Corporation. She wrote checks and maintained employee time records. By virtue of her responsibility to distribute checks and deliver mail, Ms. Boyle had access to the offices of all of the District Council's officers.

Ms. Boyle testified before the referee that the circumstances which led to her dismissal began with rumors circulating among clerical employees that the District Council was planning to designate a union to represent the District Council's clerical employees without first getting the latter's approval. Because Ms. Boyle felt unable to obtain any information from her superiors regarding the designation of a new union, she suspected that the District Council was engaged in illegal activity. On several occasions, Ms. Boyle telephoned the regional office of the NLRB, and NLRB information officers told her that she would need proof in order to establish the existence of an unfair labor practice.

Ms. Boyle stated that, one day in June, 1983, when she was alone in the office of her supervisor, District Council Secretary Joe Herkness, she saw a memorandum dated June 16, 1983, on his desk which she believed was evidence of the illegal recognition of a union by District Council 47. The memo, from the District Council president to its treasurer, stated in part:

I formally agreed to recognize SEIU Local 36 as the legal bargaining agent for Independent Clerical Employees on June 15, 1986.

Ms. Boyle made a photocopy of the memorandum. Before the referee, she explained:

It wasn't like I planned it, you saw it it was a reaction it everything fit in when I saw it I

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 78]

    thought this is the proof that they asked for it's not like I said I'm going to go into Joe Herkness's office and pick up a memo. . . .

In September of 1983, Ms. Boyle filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB against the District Council, charging that the District Council was planning to recognize a union to represent the District Council's clerical employees through procedures which violated the National Labor Relations Act.*fn2 On April 4, 1984, Ms. Boyle testified before the NLRB in a different matter. At that hearing, she produced the photocopy of the memo. Officers of the District Council 47 who were present at the hearing then became aware of Ms. Boyle's possession of the memo.

Based upon that revelation, the Health and Welfare Board of the District Council, Ms. Boyle's primary employer, met on April 19 and voted unanimously to terminate her employment. District Council President Thomas Cronin informed her of the decision that afternoon.

The Board of Review made the following findings of fact in upholding the referee's denial of benefits:

Claimant's position was sensitive and one of trust. She had control over all the financial documents and wrote all checks and maintained the ...


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