VOLUNTARY LEAVING, Early retirement, Contract negotiations
CITE AS: Clark Equipment Co. v Schultz, No. 88079 (Mich App October 15, 1987).
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: John A. Schultz
Employer: Clark Equipment Co.
Docket No: B83 15815 93709W
COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: Claimants made a choice between reasonable alternatives and are disqualified for voluntary leaving where they retired early to take advantage of a retirement program in an existing contract rather than risk a change of benefits resulting from contract negotiations.
FACTS: The involved claimants were eligible for early retirement under an existing collective bargaining agreement scheduled to expire 6-17-83. Because of their seniority they were assured of continued employment. Claimants received information from their union regarding what their pension rights would be after the contract expired. Although the employer "threatened" during negotiations to cancel the pension plan, that "threat" was not conveyed to the claimants, nor were they advised to retire by the union representative. Uncertain about their pension benefits after expiration of the contract, claimants elected to retire effective May 31, 1983.
DECISION: Claimants are disqualified for voluntary leaving.
RATIONALE: "Voluntariness must connote a decision based upon reasonable alternatives not merely acquiescence to a result imposed by physical and economic facts utterly beyond an individual's control. Lyons v Employment Security Comm, 363 Mich 201, 216; 108 NW2d 849 (1961); Laya, supra, 32. Here, claimants were not faced with economic pressures which created untenable alternatives. Cf., Larson v Employment Security Commission, 2 Mich App 540; 140 NW2d 777 (1966); Laya, supra. Rather, they had a choice between retiring and taking the substantial pension benefits already negotiated or postponing retirement and taking their chances on newly negotiated pension benefits which might be more or less favorable."