General Motors Corp. v. Review Bd. of Indiana Employment Sec. Division, 268

Citation255 N.E.2d 107, 146 Ind.App. 278
Case DateFebruary 04, 1970
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Page 107

255 N.E.2d 107
146 Ind.App. 278
GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, Appellant,
v.
REVIEW BOARD OF the INDIANA EMPLOYMENT SECURITY DIVISION,
William H. Skinner, Richard D. Cobb and Vernon E. Bertram as
Members of and as constituting the Review Board of the
Indiana Employment Security Division, and Zelda P. Aaron, et
al., Appellees.
No. 268 A 12.
Appellate Court of Indiana, Division No. 1.
Feb. 4, 1970.

[146 Ind.App. 279]

Page 108

Eugene C. Miller, Jr., and Robert McLaughlin, Barnes, Hickam, Pantzer & Boyd, Indianapolis, for appellant; Ross L. Malone, K. Douglas Mann, Detroit, Mich., of counsel.

Lloyd DeWester, Jr., Ross P. Walker, Indianapolis, L. Owen Bolinger, Kokomo, for claimants-appellees.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., William E. Matheny, Deputy Atty. Gen., for appellee Review Bd. of the Employment Security Division.

COOPER, Judge.

This judicial review arises out of a consolidated proceeding before the Indiana Employment Security Division wherein the Review Board awarded unemployment compensation to approximately 8,000 claimants for various periods between September 25 and November 10, 1964.

It appears from the record that the claimants filed their original claims before an appeals referee who decided the issues in favor of the appellant herein, holding that the claimants were not entitled to benefits for the period in question.

On review by the Review Board, the Board reversed the appeals referee and held that the claimants were entitled to benefits. The findings, conclusions and decision of the Review Board are as follows:

'STATEMENT OF FACTS: The record disclosed that:

(1) During the summer and fall of 1964, General Motors Corporation and the International Union, UAW, [146 Ind.App. 280] AFL-CIO, engaged in collective bargaining on a company-wide level and simultaneously the individual local unions were engaged in the negotiation of local issues with their respective resident management.

(2) All claimants involved herein were, at the time in question, members of the above-mentioned union, (hereinafter referred to as the 'UAW'), by reason of membership in their respective local unions.

(3) The purposes of the company-wide negotiations were to make certain

Page 109

changes in the National Agreement between the UAW and General Motors Corporation, (hereinafter referred to as 'GM'), and said National Agreement would cover all employees in the company-wide bargaining unit.

(4) On September 25, 1964, at 10 a.m., EST., the UAW called a strike at 89 widely separated GM plants. The employees at 41 other GM plants were instructed to continue working by the UAW. The four Indiana plants involved herein were among those 41 plants which continued working.

(5) As a result of an affirmative strike vote by the members, the International UAW was given authority to strike and to determine which plants, if any, would be struck.

(6) Of the 89 GM plants which were struck, some but not all were GM assembly plants. The four plants involved herein were manufacturers of parts and supplies. When the assembly plants were struck, the parts and supplier plants were faced with a lack of work which, in turn, resulted in a layoff at some plants but there was no plant involved herein that was completely shut down unless said plant was actually shut down due to a strike on local issues.

(7) A new National Agreement went into effect on November 10, 1964, and three of the four plants involved herein resumed production shortly thereafter. The Bedford plant, after settling local issues, had resumed production at an earlier date.

'Both at the referee hearing and before the Review Board, the following was the contention of GM: that the UAW used a 'selective strike strategy' in order to exert maximum pressure against GM in support of its demands; that all claimants herein were members of the same International Union; that all claimants herein voted affirmatively in favor [146 Ind.App. 281] of the strike; that all claimants herein were willing to work only because they were directed to do so by the UAW; that all claimants herein were unable to work because of the action taken by the UAW; and that the claimants should have known, and did know, that the shutting down of the 'assembly' plants would necessitate the shutting down of the 'supplier' plants, due to the lack of warehouse facilities throughout the GM system.

'It was the contention of the claimants herein that they were willing to return to work during the period of September 25, 1964, through November 10, 1964, but were unable to do so because there was no work available for them at their employing plants. The claimants further argued that and labor dispute which caused their unemployment existed at the 89 plants which were, in fact, struck by the UAW and although there may have been a local labor dispute at each of the four plants involved herein, these local disputes had no causal connection with the claimants' unemployment. The claimants stated that § 1504 requires two elements for disqualification; namely, a stoppage of work and a labor dispute, and contended that both of these elements must exist at the factory, establishment, or other premises where claimants were last employed. The claimants pointed out that the plants involved herein were geographically separate from the plants actually struck by the UAW and, therefore, there was no stoppage because of a labor dispute at these four plants.

'Although numerous cases were cited by both parties during the hearings and in their briefs, no Indiana decision was submitted which could be said to be squarely in point with the facts as presented in this appeal.

'FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS:

The Review Board finds that:

(1) GM is a very highly integrated organization. This organization consists of numerous, separate and distinct corporations whose dealings are

Page 110

with the general public, other manufacturers, and others outside the official GM family.

(2) The collective bargaining involved herein was carried on by the International UAW on behalf of all its members who were employed by GM.

(3) At the time the claimants herein were seeking benefits, there was no strike involved at the factory, establishment or other premises where these claimants[146 Ind.App. 282] were last employed nor is there any contention that the employer locked out said claimants. They were laid off due to a lack of work.

(4) During the time mentioned herein, GM continued to operate the four plants in question so far as they had available work. There is no testimony that operations were only on a standby or maintenance basis. There is no testimony of a slowdown or curtailment of production being used as a tool by either labor or management in negotiations at the four plants in question.

(5) The record reveals that prior to the signing of a National Agreement, local issues in dispute were settled at least at one of the plants involved herein and the employees returned to work about October 22, 1964, at the Central Foundry in Bedford, Indiana, but the National Agreement between GM and UAW was not signed until November 10, 1964.

'In view of the above facts, this Board concludes that:

(1) All claimants herein were members of the UAW.

(2) The UAW and GM were negotiating the National Agreement.

(3) There were strikes at some scattered GM plants.

(4) There were not strikes at any of the four GM plants involved herein during the time that the claimants herein have applied for unemployment compensation benefits.

(5) There was no general plant shutdown, lockout, or controlled curtailment of production at any of the four plants involved herein during the time which claimants have applied for benefits.

(6) There were layoffs at all four of the plants involved herein due to the fact there was no work available at the time.

'The Review Board ultimately concludes that there was no strike, lockout, or other directly attributed shortage of work due to a labor dispute at the factory, plant, or establishment where the claimants were last employed and, therefore, § 1504 of the Act is not applicable.

'DECISION: The decision of the referee is hereby reversed this 30th day of October, 1967, and provided they are otherwise eligible, the claimants are entitled to benefits.'

[146 Ind.App. 283] The sole assigned error in this review, is that the Review Board's decision is contrary to law. The appellant bases its assigned error on three major premises, namely: First, that the Review Board's findings are not supported by the evidence; second, that the findings do not support the ultimate conclusion reached, either as that conclusion is stated by the Review Board or as is required to determine eligibility under Sec. 1504 of the Employment Security Act; and third, the Review Board's ultimate conclusion rests on an interpretation of the governing statute which is erroneous as a matter of law.

The governing statute involved in this matter is Burns' Indiana Statutes, Anno., (1964 Repl.) Sec. 52--1539c, the pertinent part of which reads as follows:

'An individual shall be ineligible for waiting period or benefit rights: for any week with respect to which an employee

Page 111

of the division, designated by the director and hereinafter referred to as the deputy, finds that his total or partial or part-total 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 was last employed; Provided, That this section shall not apply if it is shown to the satisfaction of the deputy that: he is not participating in or financing or directly interested in the labor dispute which caused the stoppage of work; and he does not belong to a grade or class of workers of which, immediately before the commencement of the stoppage, there were members employed at the premises at which the stoppage occurs, any of whom are participating in or financing or directly interested in the dispute; and he has not...

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