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Mountain States Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Sakrison

Supreme Court of Arizona

December 29, 1950

MOUNTAIN STATES TEL. & TEL. CO.
v.
SAKRISON et al

Judgment reversed.

Fennemore, Craig, Allen & Bledsoe, Phoenix, for appellant.

D. Kelly Turner, Phoenix, for appellee, Employment Security Commission.

Udall, Justice. La Prade, C. J., and Stanford, Phelps and De Concini, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Udall, Justice.

Page 708

[71 Ariz. 220] Due to a failure in wage negotiations, a nationwide strike by the employees of affiliated telephone and telegraph companies in the United States occurred on April 7, 1947. In the state of Arizona this strike was directed against three companies operating herein, viz.: the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. (parent company of the Bell System) and its subsidiaries, the Western Electric Co. and the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Co., the latter two having their business offices in the same building in the city of Phoenix. Upon applications being made, decisions were rendered by a Special Deputy and the Employment Security Commission of Arizona disallowing unemployment compensation benefits to employees of the American Telephone and Telegraph and Western Electric companies, and no appeal having been taken therefrom, these decisions became final. The present controversy, which is solely with the Mountain States Co., arises under the "Employment Security Act of Arizona", hereinafter called the Act, Ch. 56, art. 10, as amended. See Cumulative Pocket Supplement, A.C.A.1939.

Appellee R. L. Moore and 245 others filed application for unemployment compensation with the Employment Security Commission of the State of Arizona, for loss of employment during the period April 7 to May 20, 1947. All claimants were employees of appellant, Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Co., a corporation doing business in the states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and El Paso County, Texas, as well as in Arizona. The parties will hereinafter be referred to as the commission, claimants or employees, and the company.

Special Deputy D. Kelly Turner, who made the initial investigation regarding the claims under the provisions of Sec. 56-1006a, conducted extensive hearings and rendered separate decisions covering claimants [71 Ariz. 221] from four geographical areas of the state. Deputy Turner did not consider the company's statewide operations as a single "establishment" under the Act, but in

Page 709

his view the company's four departments were to be treated separately and independently. He held that some claimants were qualified and some disqualified to receive benefits. The company, as well as the claimants who were denied compensation benefits, appealed to the commission. The latter considered the record made before the deputy, and after conducting additional hearings found that the very nature of the company's business and its operations required the conclusion that the statewide system constituted a "single establishment" for the application of the Act. The commission's decision (Chairman John M. Sakrison dissenting) was to the effect that in the light of the statewide picture the strike did not cause a curtailment of operations sufficient to constitute a work stoppage, and hence the 246 claimants here involved were not disqualified under Sec. 56-1005(d) from receiving the benefits provided for in the Act.

The company, deeming itself aggrieved by the final decision of the commission, petitioned the superior court for a review of the record made before the inferior tribunals as provided for under Sec. 56-1011n. From a judgment of the Superior Court of Maricopa County rendered March 17, 1949, affirming in all respects the decision of the commission, the company prosecutes this appeal.

It should be noted that under the Act, Sec. 56-1006a, when the superior court affirmed the decision of the commission the claimants were paid their unemployment benefits, hence in reality, from a financial standpoint at least, the only thing that abides the final decision of this court is whether the payments already made to claimants shall be charged on the commission's books against ...


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