LABOR DISPUTE, Termination of labor dispute disqualification, Permanent replacements
CITE AS: Wohlert Special Products v MESC, 202 Mich App 419 (1993)
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Bruce Behnke, et al
Employer: Wohlert Special Products, Inc.
Docket No. B89-52300-117085 et al
COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: In a labor dispute situation where the strikers' positions were never filled by permanent replacement workers and the strikers could have returned to work at any time, the labor dispute did not cease to be a contributing cause of their unemployment.
FACTS: On January 30, 1989, union employees went on strike after one and a half years of contract negotiations. The employer did not implement a lockout and offered employees the opportunity to continue working. The employer hired some temporary replacements and continued to operate. On May 28, 1989 the employer announced the hiring of permanent replacement workers. Nonetheless, the employer never managed to replace all the strikers and always had numerous unfilled positions. Some workers who applied for benefits after May 25 were granted benefits on the basis that the labor dispute disqualification ended when the employer began hiring permanent replacements.
DECISION: The claimants are disqualified under Section 29(8).
RATIONALE: This case is factually distinguishable from Plymouth Stamping, Division of Eltec Corp v Lipshu, 436 Mich 1; 461 NW2d 859 (1990). In that case, strikers were held eligible for benefits when their positions were permanently replaced, because at that point, the labor dispute was no longer a substantial, contributing cause of their unemployment. They could reapply as new employees after the strike was settled and were subject to rehire as positions became available. In the case at bar, the strikers always had the option of accepting reinstatement to their former positions. Their refusal to return to work precludes them from receiving benefits.
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