Unemployment Compensation – Labor Dispute Disqualification – Workers Unemployed by a Mult-Employer Lockout

Two unions of restaurant employees voted to strike the local restaurant industry in order to obtain a more favorable master contract with a restaurant owners’ association. The unions executed this program by strategically calling strikes on only a few key restaurants. The association retaliated by notifying its members to lay off their employees in accordance with its previously announced policy to consider a called strike against one member a called strike against all members. The California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board held that the union employees laid off in response to the association’s notice were “voluntarily” out of work and therefore were disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits in view of the statutory disqualification of any worker who “left his work because of a trade dispute.” In a mandamus proceedings brought by the union employees, the superior court reversed the appeals board. On appeal to the California Supreme Court, held, reversed, one judge dissenting. Having first used a work stoppage as an economic weapon, the union employees were responsible for the foreseeable reprisals and were therefore disqualified from unemployment benefits for having voluntarily left their work because of a trade dispute. Gardner v. State Director of Employment, 53 Cal.2d 23, 346 P.2d 193 (1959).