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ACME CORRUGATED BOX COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/08/89)

decided: September 8, 1989.

ACME CORRUGATED BOX COMPANY, INC., PETITIONER,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



PETITION FOR REVIEW, (UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION).

COUNSEL

Louis J. Capozzi, Jr., Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, Philadelphia, for petitioner.

No appearance for respondent.

Margaret A. Browning, Spear, Wilderman, Sigmond, Borish & Endy, Philadelphia, for intervenors, George Horvath, et al.

Doyle and Palladino, JJ., and Narick, Senior Judge.

Author: Palladino

[ 131 Pa. Commw. Page 246]

Acme Corrugated Box Company (Acme) appeals an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review affirming a referee's decision granting benefits to George Horvath (Claimant).

Claimant worked for Acme as a press operator and was a member of the United Paper Workers Union, Local No. 375 (Union). In January 1985, Acme and the Union were engaged in labor negotiations to replace an existing contract which was to expire on January 31, 1985. The contract expired on January 31, 1985, but the employees continued to work until February 5, 1985. On February 6, 1985, the Union began to picket.

Acme contends that the Union went out on strike and therefore, Claimant is not entitled to unemployment compensation benefits. Claimant asserts that the work stoppage was either the result of a lockout or that Acme's

[ 131 Pa. Commw. Page 247]

    subsequent conduct converted the strike into a lockout. Therefore, the sole issue on appeal*fn1 is whether Claimant's unemployment was the result of a lockout or a strike. We note that this issue is a mixed question of law and fact subject to our review. Grandinetti v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 87 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 133, 486 A.2d 1040 (1985).

Under Section 402(d) of the Unemployment Compensation Law,*fn2 an employee is ineligible for unemployment benefits for any week in which the cause of his unemployment is due to a labor dispute other than a lockout. The test to determine if the work stoppage is caused by a strike or a lockout was set forth in Vrotney Unemployment Compensation Case, 400 Pa. 440, 444-45, 163 A.2d 91, 93-94 (1960):

Have the employees offered to continue working for a reasonable time under the pre-existing terms and conditions of employment so as to avert a work stoppage pending the final settlement of the contract negotiations; and has the employer agreed to permit work to continue for a reasonable time under the pre-existing terms and conditions of employment pending further negotiations? If the employer refuses to so extend the expiring contract and maintain the status quo, then the resulting work stoppage constitutes a "lockout" and the ...


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