Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission --
Summary of Wisconsin Court Decision relating to Unemployment Insurance

Subject: Research Products Corporation v. LIRC and Cory J. Schutz (Hearing No. 98001619BO), Case 98-CV-3222 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Dane Co., July 30, 1999)

Digest Codes: VL 1080.266  VL 1059.20

The employe worked as a machine operator at the employer’s plant in Poynette and in 1997 he averaged $12.33 per hour. This included 15 cents per hour for leadworker pay plus incentive pay. His base pay was $8.05 per hour. The employer notified the employe that he was being laid off, but that he could work at its Madison plant in similar work for the same base pay ($8.05 per hour) but no leadworker pay. He could also expect to receive incentive pay, but there was no guarantee as to how much that pay would be. Three other workers who accepted the transfer earned 149 percent, 164 percent, and 193 percent of their base pay, respectively, during their first six weeks of employment in Madison. The employe’s round trip commuting distance would have increased by 54 miles per day, which at 32 cents per mile was calculated to amount to $2.19 per hour, compared to a commuting cost of 24 cents per hour in Poynette. The employe refused the transfer and thus quit his employment. The commission reversed the appeal tribunal and found good cause for quitting. It compared the known hourly wage the employe had received in Poynette ($12.33 per hour) with the wage the collective bargaining agreement provided could be expected but not guaranteed based on incentive rates. That wage was 130 percent of the base of $8.05 per hour. When the additional commuting costs were subtracted from this wage the net reduction was approximately 30 percent. The employer appealed and argued that the comparison should have been between the $12.33 per hour in Poynette and the average incentive rate for all workers at the Madison plant, which was 164.5 percent of base. This would have resulted in a wage reduction, after additional commuting costs, of about 8.4 percent for the employe. 

Held: The commission’s decision is reversed and remanded with directions that it compare the same type of incentive wages to be earned at both plants. The commission decision compared the full-incentive pay received at Poynette with the partial-incentive pay which could have been received at Madison. The court did not determine whether good cause for quitting had been established, but left that determination to be made once again by the commission after making new wage comparisons.

[original Commission decision]

Please note that this is a summary prepared by staff of the commission, not a verbatim reproduction of the court decision.

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