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Giant Food drivers can get jobless pay


Maryland's second-highest court has ruled that Giant Food Inc. truck drivers and other workers who participated in a one-month strike against the company two years ago can collect unemployment insurance.

The Court of Special Appeals ruled that an employer's operations as a whole must be considered in deciding whether a "stoppage of work" has occurred.

Giant estimated that the strike, which began in December 1996, cost it about $3.9 million to replace goods that it ordinarily manufactured. Sales dropped almost 15 percent during the strike.

But a panel at the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation upheld the workers' application for unemployment insurance because the company kept its stores stocked from outside wholesalers and suppliers.

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge upheld the decision, as did the Court of Special Appeals.

"We had a different view of the law," said Roger Titus, Giant's attorney.

Matthew Boyle, a lawyer for the state labor department, called Monday's decision a "minor extension" of the law on unemployment compensation.

Pub Date: 1/06/99

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