APPEAL from a decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, filed December 23, 1952, on nine claims which were filed on or about April 7, 1952.
Nathaniel L. Goldstein, Attorney-General (Francis R. Curran and Wendell P. Brown of counsel), for appellant.
Robert M. Hitchcock for Bethlehem Steel Company, respondent.
Lippman Bodoff and Eugene N. Sosnoff for claimants-respondents.
This appeal by the Industrial Commissioner presents for our determination these questions concerning the interpretation of subdivision 1 of section 592 of article 18 of the Labor Law (Unemployment Insurance Law): (1) Whether a suspension of benefit rights under this section, imposed because employees lost employment as a result of a strike, is terminated when plant operations are resumed and other employees return to work as a result of a Presidential order seizing the employer's
steel plant; and (2) whether the suspension imposed by this section must be in consecutive weeks or may be accumulated from successive periods of unemployment.
Subdivision 1 of section 592 of the Labor Law (Unemployment Insurance Law) provides: '1. Industrial controversy. The accumulation of benefit rights by a claimant shall be suspended during a period of seven consecutive weeks beginning with the day after he lost his employment because of a strike, lockout, or other industrial controversy in the establishment in which he was employed, except that benefit rights may be accumulated before the expiration of such seven weeks beginning with the day after such strike, lockout, or other industrial controversy was terminated.'
A collective bargaining agreement between the steelworkers' union and the nation's steel mills was in force during 1951, and was due to expire at the end of that year. Negotiations for a new contract failed and in December, notice of a nationwide strike was given to all steel mills. Because of the importance of the steel industry, the dispute was referred by the President to the Federal Wage Stabilization Board and commencement of the strike was deferred by the union from time to time. When these negotiations failed, notice was given to all employers on April 4, 1952, that a strike would commence on April 9, 1952.
To prevent the great damage that would result from allowing equipment subjected to extremely high temperatures to cool too rapidly, the steelworkers' union and the Bethlehem Steel Company have had since 1946, special arrangements, known as the 'orderly shutdown', to permit a gradual cooling off of the equipment during the period when a strike stops production. Because of the integrated operations, the various productive steps, dependent as they are one upon the other, cannot all commence or cease at the same time. Hence when the various operations are stopped, and then started up again, the steelworkers come off and go on the various jobs at different times depending on the particular mill in which they work.
As the various operations of the employer's plant commenced to close down on or about April 7, 1952, under the orderly shutdown arrangement, the men involved in the various operations walked off the job as it became possible to do so. However, on April 8, 1952, the day before the effective date of the strike, the President issued an Executive Order directing the Secretary of Commerce to take possession of the nation's steel mills and to keep them ...