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Peters v. Chicago Wesley Memorial Hospital

JUNE 1, 1971.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. DANIEL A. COVELLI, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied June 30, 1971.

This is an appeal from a decree ordering specific performance of an employee representative election agreement executed by the plaintiffs and the defendants. Defendants contend that the court erred in enforcing the agreement since an essential element of the agreement was disregarded and further that the determination that the terms of the agreement were satisfied was against the manifest weight of the evidence.

On February 10, 1970, plaintiffs and defendants negotiated an agreement providing for an election among certain employees of the Chicago Wesley Memorial Hospital (Hospital) to determine whether those employees desired to be represented by the Hospital Employees Labor Program (Union) for purposes of collective bargaining. The agreement provided, inter alia, that the State of Illinois Department of Labor act as (and hereinafter referred to as) the Election Supervisor and that the Election Supervisor conduct a hearing to determine the validity of any objections which may be filed as to the conduct of the election. The agreement also provided that the rules and standards of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would be employed in the conduct of the election.

The agreement further provided that in the event a majority of the eligible employees in the election select the Union as their representative, this fact was to be certified by the Election Supervisor to the Union and the Hospital, both of which in turn were to "proceed forthwith to negotiate in good faith a collective bargaining agreement pertaining to the employees involved."

On the same date the parties entered a supplemental agreement relating to an arbitration of the dismissal of two Hospital employees if the Union was selected by the eligible Hospital employees as their representative.

The election was held on February 24, 25, and 26, 1970, on the Hospital's premises, and the polls were open from 6:30 A.M. to 9:00 A.M. and from 2:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. on each day. The Election Supervisor assigned Robert Macie and Gene Leonard to conciliate or supervise the election, and poll watchers were designated by the Union and by the Hospital.

Employed in the election was one large wooden ballot box containing an opening on the top for the insertion of the ballots. One side of the box contained a door on which was constructed a "built-in" lock. It appears that the ballot box used in the election had been borrowed from the City of Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

The election was held and thereafter the Election Supervisor announced the final results:

Total Vote Cast ............................. 685 For the Union ............................... 472 For NO Union ................................ 110 Challenged Votes ............................ 86 Void Ballots ................................ 17

On March 4, 1970 the Hospital filed objections to the conduct of the election with the Election Supervisor and a hearing was held on the objections on March 11, 1970. The testimony taken at the hearing revealed that on the first day of the election the Hospital's assistant superintendent suggested to Union representatives that "rasp" (sic) and padlock be placed on the door of the ballot box, but the Union representatives objected and refused to join in such request to the Conciliator. The testimony further revealed that on the second day of the election an attorney for the Hospital who was present at the polling place requested the Conciliator to place seals on the top opening of the ballot box when the box was not in use. The Conciliator refused, stating that the box had been borrowed and that placing seals on the box would be defacing property belonging to another. The box, when not in use and including overnight breaks, remained in the possession of the Conciliator.

Hospital witnesses testified that after the polling had closed on the second day of the election, they observed Conciliator Macie and a Union poll watcher walking toward Macie's automobile pushing the ballot box in a wheel chair. After Macie had opened the trunk of the automobile, he walked to the front of the vehicle to check a traffic citation which had been placed on the windshield; at the same time, the Union poll watcher who had accompanied Macie was observed placing the ballot box into the trunk of the automobile, "in a jostling manner." There was evidence that the box had to be maneuvered because of its weight and its odd size in order to properly set it inside the trunk.

The testimony further revealed that the Conciliator left the ballot box in the presence of Hospital security guards on the morning of the second day of the election while he went to park his automobile and that he returned about ten minutes later. Substantially the same thing occurred on the morning of the last day of election.

Witnesses were called by the Hospital who testified to the procedures used in the conduct of similar elections at two other hospitals in Chicago. They testified that the ballot boxes used in those elections were sealed when ...

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