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Beaunit Mills Inc. v. Board of Review

Decided: December 28, 1956.

BEAUNIT MILLS, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & INDUSTRY, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND JOHN J. PLUNKETT, RESPONDENTS. BEAUNIT MILLS, INC., APPELLANT, V. BOARD OF REVIEW, DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & INDUSTRY, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND THOMAS R. HECK, RESPONDENTS. BEAUNIT MILLS, INC., APPELLANT, V. BOARD OF REVIEW, DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & INDUSTRY, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND ALBERT S. VAN SCIVER, RESPONDENTS. BEAUNIT MILLS, INC., APPELLANT, V. BOARD OF REVIEW, DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & INDUSTRY, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND CLARENCE P. COMEGYS, RESPONDENTS. BEAUNIT MILLS, INC., APPELLANT, V. BOARD OF REVIEW, DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & INDUSTRY, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND PETER G. LEFFLER, RESPONDENTS. BEAUNIT MILLS, INC., APPELLANT, V. BOARD OF REVIEW, DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & INDUSTRY, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND FRANK SMITH, RESPONDENTS



Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.A.D.

Francis

The question to be determined on this appeal is whether the employees involved are barred from unemployment compensation on the ground that they had been "discharged for misconduct connected with [their] work." N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(b).

The cited section of the Unemployment Compensation Law provides as follows:

"An individual shall be disqualified for benefits:

(b) For the week in which he has been discharged for misconduct connected with his work, and for the five weeks which immediately follow such week (in addition to the waiting period), as determined in each case."

The matter was before us on an earlier occasion. However, the facts had not been fully developed and we remanded for completion of the record. 38 N.J. Super. 547 (App. Div. 1956).

Guilt of the type of misconduct condemned by the statute is a conclusion which can be reached only through the avenue of the facts of the particular case. Consequently it is necessary to detail them here.

Prior to the events with which we are concerned, Beaunit Mills, Inc. and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, Local Union No. 676, American Federation of Labor, had executed a collective bargaining contract covering employees of the Beaunit Trucking Division at Delran, New Jersey. Article VIII thereof lists insubordination as a cause for dismissal and provides:

"* * *

When an employee is dismissed for reasons other than the lack of business, he may upon request, have a hearing before the committee composed of representatives of the Employer and the Union. If Representatives of the Employer and the Union are unable to agree, an outside neutral Arbitrator selected by the Employer and the Union may be called in to settle the difference. In case the Employer and the Union are unable to agree upon an Arbitrator then the Director of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service shall be requested to designate and [ sic ] arbitrator. Such arbitration decision shall be final and binding on both the Employer and the Union and the Employee. * * * All such cases of discipline or discharge shall be taken up within ten (10) working days from the date of such discipline or discharge or the employee * * * waives his * * * rights therein. * * *." (Emphasis added)

Article IX deals with the appointment of a shop steward whose "sole function * * * shall be to see that the terms of this Agreement are fulfilled both by the Employer and the Employees."

Arbitration generally is treated under Article XIII as follows:

"Differences arising out of the interpretation and application of the terms of this agreement that have not been resolved between the Employer and the Union may, at the option of either party, be submitted to arbitration. * * *."

One Posch, a truck driver, became the shop steward. On January 22, 1955, after at least three and a half years service, he was discharged; whether it was effective that same day or at a later time is not clear. So far as the men involved in these proceedings are concerned, it was a sudden and unceremonious discharge. To their knowledge, no reason was assigned by the company and they were not aware of the basis for the action. And Posch told some of the men that he did not know why he had been fired. It seems fairly obvious that his statement was untruthful, but it is even more obvious that the men believed him. Since he was their shop steward, they apparently were leaderless without him.

In any event, on January 26 a few of the men discussed engaging in a work stoppage for a day to protest Posch's discharge. As the early morning shift of truck drivers began to arrive on Thursday, January 27, talk began about refraining from work until they found out why Posch had been fired summarily. Posch was among these men but whether he was to drive that day does not appear. As the result, 17 drivers and platform workers decided to engage in what was variously described as a "work stoppage," a "strike" or a "walkout," in order to find out the reason for the discharge. None of them at any time intended to quit their jobs. One driver in his testimony seemed to express the common feeling, namely: "I was willing to go to work right then if they told us why he was laid off." Another expressed his bewilderment by saying that "if they could do that to anybody" he was wondering "if they could do it" to him. Still ...


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