LABOR DISPUTE, Lockout, Disguised layoff, Substantial contributing cause
CITE AS: Alexander v A.P. Parts Manufacturing Co., unpublished per curiam Court of Appeals, February 23, 1996 (No. 168700).
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: David J. Alexander, et al
Employer: A.P. Parts Manufacturing Co.
Docket No. B90-60000-119070 et al
COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: Where, in the context of contract negotiations, the employer increased production in order to build up inventory, then locked out its union employees while negotiations continued, there was evidence sufficient to support the conclusion that claimants' unemployment was substantially related to a labor dispute.
FACTS: Contract between employer and claimants' union (UAW) was to expire February 8, 1990. Since October 1989, employer had been warehousing parts sufficient to cover 2-3 month period following expiration of contract. Additional employees were hired. On December 8, 1989 employees were notified that layoffs were likely as of February 8, 1990 if a contract was reached, because of the stockpiled inventory. On February 8, 1990, employer's final contract offer was rejected. Employees notified of shutdown on February 9th and February 12th for inventory adjustment. On February 13th the employer locked out its union employees. On March 30th the employer gave notice plant would reopen and lockout cease on April 2, 1990. Tentative contract reached May 5, 1990, ratified May 15, 1990.
DECISION: Claimants were subject to disqualification under Section 29(8).
RATIONALE: "Here the parties do not contest whether a labor dispute existed. Therefore, we need only determine whether substantial evidence exists to connect the labor dispute with the lockout." That evidence was supplied by employer testimony the lockout was designed to improve the employer's bargaining position and to narrow the distance between the parties. Warehousing of inventory gave the employer the option of using a lockout as a tactic if negotiations soured.