Appeals from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, in the cases of Joseph P. Nestico, No. B-257287; Ronald W. Lee, No. B-257291; Warren A. Rudolph, No. B-257290; John F. Burkhardt, No. B-257289; Elmer Edwin Golock, No. B-257288.
Elizabeth L. Peters, with her, J. T. Carney and Paul A. Robb, for petitioner.
John Stember, Neighborhood Legal Services Association, for intervenors.
Judges Doyle, Palladino and McGinley, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle. Judge MacPhail did not participate in the decision in this case.
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Before us are consolidated appeals by the USX Corporation, formerly known as the United States Steel Corporation, (USX), from orders of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) granting Joseph P. Nestico, Ronald W. Lee, Warren A. Rudolph, John F. Burkhardt, and Elmer Edwin Golock (collectively Claimants), all former employees of USX, unemployment compensation benefits based on their sufficient base-year wages pursuant to Sections 401(a) and 404 of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law).*fn1
The facts as found by the referee are as follows. All five Claimants were employed by USX between 1964 and 1985 and they were all hourly bargaining unit employees represented by Local 1397, United Steel Workers of America (Union). The negotiations discussed hereinafter were handled by a labor/management agreement between the Union and USX. The labor/management agreement contained a grievance procedure that provided for binding arbitration if a grievance could not be resolved by utilizing a four-step grievance procedure.
All Claimants had, at one point in time, been laid off by USX. Claimants later filed grievances maintaining that they should have been recalled to work during their layoffs, under the seniority provisions of the labor/management agreement. The Union and USX could not resolve the grievances at any of the first four steps, and the grievances were submitted to binding arbitration on October 23, 1984 pursuant to the labor/management agreement. On February 11, 1986, the arbitrator issued a decision and award in favor of the Union, granting Claimants back pay for the layoff periods as well as
[ 122 Pa. Commw. Page 22]
credit toward their seniority. All federal, state, local and other taxes were withheld and/or paid by USX on the back pay awards, and the awards were treated as regular wages. Claimants, however, actually received this back pay in lump sum payments in April of 1986. Several of the Claimants had collected unemployment compensation during weeks that the arbitrator held that they should have been working. USX therefore reduced their back pay checks by the amount of unemployment benefits they received during the weeks covered by the back pay awards.
Claimants each filed an application for unemployment benefits. The Office of Employment Security (OES) counted Claimants' back pay as "paid" when it was actually paid and given into Claimants' possession, April 1986, thereby reducing the amount of wages in Claimants' base-year and denying Claimants' benefits.*fn2
On appeal, the referee applied Claimants' back pay awards to the quarter in which they should have been working. This action, of course, increased Claimants' base-year wages, making them eligible for benefits. On April 10, 1987, the Board affirmed the referee's decisions. These appeals ensued.*fn3
The sole issue before this Court is whether Claimants' back wages should be allocated to the quarter in which the wages were actually received by Claimants, or, to the ...