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Burgoon v. Board of Review

Decided: May 6, 1968.

FAY E. BURGOON, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT. WILLIAM L. BURNS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, V. BOARD OF REVIEW, DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND ARMSTRONG CORK CO., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Goldmann, Kilkenny and Carton. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kilkenny, J.A.D.

Kilkenny

These are consolidated appeals by two groups of claimants from final decisions of the Board of Review, holding them disqualified under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(d) from receiving unemployment benefits during two strike periods in March 1965 at the Armstrong Cork Company plant in Millville, New Jersey, where they had been employed. The Bureau found that their unemployment from March 1, 1965 through March 9, 1965 and from March 18, 1965 through March 28, 1965 was due to stoppages of work which existed because labor disputes at the Armstrong plant, and that the claimants did not come within the exemptions specified in N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(d).

Armstrong manufactures glass containers at its Millville establishment. Its employees belong to several different unions. For example, those engaged in the warehousing and shipping operations, as well as yard truck activities, are members of Teamsters Local Union 676. The automatic machine operators belong to Local 7 of the Glass Bottle Blowers Association of the United States and Canada. The Burns group of 121 claimants is in that local. The production and maintenance workers are members of Local 257. Locals 257 and 7 are both subject to the jurisdiction of the same International Union. The Burgoon group of 689 claimants belongs to Local 257. Each local negotiates its own separate contract with the employer, and each meets separately and has its own set of officers. However, Locals 7 and 257 are in a common International Union, receive aid therefrom in negotiating contracts and contribute twenty-five cents monthly from each member's dues to a common strike fund maintained by the International.

I

The genesis of the first strike was the creation of eight new jobs by Armstrong and its assignment of those jobs to Teamsters Local 676. Local 257 protested this assignment and claimed the jobs for its own members. The eight jobs in this

jurisdictional dispute were driving forklift trucks, picking up pallets of ware and transporting them from trailer trains to the company's warehouse operations.

The contract between Local 257 and Armstrong required submission of the dispute to arbitration. This was done and the impartial arbitrator ruled on January 25, 1965 that the eight jobs should be assigned to Local 257. The ruling was binding on the employer but not on the Teamsters Local which was not a party to and had not participated in the arbitration hearing. Thus, the employer found itself caught in the middle of this jurisdictional labor dispute. Armstrong filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board in order to resolve the job assignment issue and thus extricate itself from its dilemma.

Meanwhile, the Teamsters Local contract expired on February 28, 1965 and it would not renew or extend the contract unless it was allowed to retain the eight jobs. At 12:01 A.M. on March 1, 1965 the Teamsters Local struck the Armstrong plant and the bulk of its 125 members formed mass picket lines at the entrances to the plant. The strike persisted through March 9, 1965 when a temporary settlement was effected before Judge Madden in the federal court in Camden. The stipulation was agreed upon by all interested parties. The job assignment was left temporarily with the Teamsters Local, pending determination by the N.L.R.B., and a pay rate differential was given Local 257 members. (The N.L.R.B. subsequently affirmed the ruling by the arbitrator and the Teamsters Local appealed from that decision).

There is substantial evidence in the record to support the finding by the Appeal Tribunal and concurred in by the Board of Review that the failure of members of Locals 7 and 257 to cross the picket lines set up by the teamsters union was not voluntary, but was rather due to fear of violence. It was also found that some members of Local 257 joined the picket lines, but their purpose in doing so was not made manifest and was somewhat incongruous. This unexplained

picketing by a handful of Local 257 members was without official union sanction. It is not material to the resolution of the issues before us. We mention it only because it is part of the record.

The members of Locals 7 and 257, who had been idled from March 1 through March 9, 1965 by the teamsters union's strike, claimed unemployment benefits for that period. The Appeal Tribunal decided that the members of Local 257 were disqualified under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(d) because the work stoppage was due to a labor dispute in which they were "directly interested." It ruled, however, that the members of Local 7 were not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because they were not involved in the labor dispute, had not participated in it or helped to finance it in any way, and their not crossing the picket lines was involuntary.

The Board of Review agreed with the fact findings of the Appeal Tribunal and its conclusion disqualifying the members of Local 257 because of their direct interest in the labor dispute which caused the work stoppage. However, it held that the members of Local 7 were also disqualified during this first strike period because the members of both Locals 7 and 257 "were all in one grade or class" and by reason thereof disqualified under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(d).

The Burns group in Local 7 and the Burgoon group in Local 257 assert that these decisions by the Board of Review are erroneous. Both groups claim to be entitled to unemployment benefits during their ...


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