Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.A.D.
Appellants, employees of the Bethlehem Steel Company, Shipbuilding Division, were adjudged disqualified from unemployment compensation benefits by the Board of Review, Division of Employment Security. The denial was predicated upon a determination that the cessation of their employment was due to a stoppage of work which existed because of a labor dispute.
The pertinent statute, R.S. 43:21-5, provides that:
"An individual shall be disqualified for benefits:
(d) For any week with respect to which it is found that his unemployment is due to a stoppage of work which exists because of a labor dispute at the factory, establishment, or other premises at which he is or was last employed; * * *."
The plaintiffs' union had a collective bargaining contract with the employer. It was to expire on June 23, 1954. Section 1 of Article 24 thereof provided that:
"Either party may on any day between April 13, and April 23, 1954, give notice to the other party of the desire of the party giving such notice to negotiate with respect to the terms and conditions of a new agreement on wages, rates of pay, hours of work and other conditions of employment * * *. If the parties shall not agree with respect to any of such matters (including pensions and insurance) by midnight of June 23, 1954, either party may thereafter resort to strike or lockout as the case may be in support of its position in respect of such matters * * *."
On April 15, 1954 the union gave the required 60-day notice of its intention to seek a new agreement involving a basic wage increase, increases in incentive pay rates, holiday pay, overtime pay and shift differential pay. The exact form of the notice does not appear but in referring to it at the hearing the Chairman of the Board said:
"Then a strike notice was given?
Mr. Rothbard: Right. Sixty days' notice was given April 15th, I guess, because the contract was to expire June 23."
Negotiations began on the various new demands of the union but by June 23 the parties were still in dispute with respect to them. On that day, the union wrote the employer:
"You have advised us that your customers may be reluctant to let to your Companies, and your Companies may be reluctant to accept contracts for repair and other work at your Yards, if our members shall be free to strike on June 24, 1954. You have assured us that your Companies will continue in good faith the serious bargaining for new agreements with our Union, and that you will devote as much time thereto as reasonably possible to assure ...