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City of Pana v. Crowe

JULY 23, 1973.

THE CITY OF PANA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

HAROLD CROWE ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Christian County; the Hon. DANIEL H. DAILEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE JONES DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Does the Illinois Anti-Injunction Act (Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 48, sec. 2(a)), prohibit the issuance of an injunction against a strike by city employees engaged in the maintenance of services essential to the public?

Plaintiff-appellee is the City of Pana, population 6,400, and defendants-appellants are a local union of municipal employees, its officers and members. The city operates water, sewer, street and police departments, the employees of which are members of the local union. Prior to April 30, 1972, the city and the local union were parties to a collective bargaining agreement. Before the date of expiration of the agreement negotiations were conducted with a view to its extension, but the negotiations were unsuccessful. On Friday, June 9 the mayor was notified by telephone that the members of the union had voted to call a strike effective at 7:00 A.M. on Monday, June 12. At the appointed time a majority of the city employees had failed to report for work. At 8:00 A.M. the city obtained ex parte a temporary injunction which enjoined the work stoppage. The injunction was served shortly thereafter and the employees were back at work before 10:30 A.M. that morning. After a hearing in which both parties participated the temporary injunction was made permanent. The order for the permanent injunction made findings that the failure of the individual defendants to report for work, or to continue their work, was a direct interference in the operation of the city's water, sewer, street and police departments with the resultant inability of the city to maintain the services furnished by those departments.

It goes without question that such services may be deemed essential to the health, safety and welfare of the city's inhabitants. The injunction prohibited the officers, agents, representatives and members of the defendant union or persons acting in combination, consort or sympathy with them from:

"(a) Engaging in a strike or any form of cessation of work, against the City of Pana.

(b) Hindering or obstructing in any manner the use and maintenance of the building, structures, machinery and equipment, owned, rented, maintained and used by the City of Pana, in its governmental or proprietary functions."

Defendants have appealed contending that the injunction was issued in violation of the plain terms of the Anti-Injunction Act and therefore it should be dissolved. The plaintiff contends, on the other hand, that there are expressions of public policy found in certain constitutional and statutory provisions relating to the public health, safety and welfare which effectively override the provisions of the Anti-Injunction Act, that since the services involved here are furnished by the city pursuant to the mandate of such constitutional and statutory provisions the Anti-Injunction Act is accordingly rendered inapplicable.

• 1 Broadly stated the Anti-Injunction Act prohibits the issuance of injunctions against peaceful picketing or strikes. It is to be noted that the Act states no exceptions to its application in the event peaceful picketing or a strike is being conducted by public employees or where the employment relates to the public health, safety and welfare.

In addition to the Anti-Injunction Act we must heed three relevant decisions of the supreme court. The first of these is Board of Ed. of Community Unit School Dist. No. 2 v. Redding 32 Ill.2d 567, 207 N.E.2d 427. The case involved a strike by custodial employees of a school district. Upon application by the governing board of education the trial court refused to enjoin the strike or the attendant picketing upon the grounds that plaintiff had failed to show irreparable injury and the picketing was peaceful and a valid exercise of free speech. On appeal the supreme court reversed, finding that there was expressed in the Illinois constitution a public policy to provide a thorough and efficient system of free schools which was of sufficient importance to transcend the right of custodial workers at a school to strike or picket. The anti-injunction statute was not mentioned.

Next, in Peters v. South Chicago Community Hospital (1969), 44 Ill.2d 22, 253 N.E.2d 375, the court considered the application of the Anti-Injunction Act to a strike by employees of a not-for-profit hospital. It was there argued, akin to Redding, that the public interest in the uninterrupted and efficient operation of hospitals would override the public interest in the rights of hospital employees to strike and picket. The supreme court rejected the argument, stating:

"The language of the statute is clear and it makes no exceptions for hospitals. This is the only legislative expression of public policy which touches on the labor relations of these not-for-profit hospitals. As we have mentioned, the General Assembly has failed to enact legislation which would govern these labor relations otherwise than as expressed in the anti-injunction statute. Unlike Redding there is no overriding expression of public policy here such as the constitutional mandate that the General Assembly shall `provide a thorough and efficient system of free schools, * * *.' Ill. Const. art. VIII, sec. 1."

The court accordingly declined the public policy exemption from the Anti-Injunction Act in favor of a not-for-profit hospital.

Finally, in County of Peoria v. Benedict (1970), 47 Ill.2d 166, it was squarely held that the Anti-Injunction Act applies to public employees. Involved there was a strike by employees of a nursing home operated by Peoria County pursuant to statutory authorization. The court stated with little ceremony that for the same reasons given in Peters v. South Chicago Community Hospital the Anti-Injunction Act was applicable and the preliminary injunction was erroneously issued.

Confronted with these decisions the appellee city asks this court to find in certain constitutional provisions and statutory enactments an expression of public policy which would justify, if not require, our finding as overriding of the Anti-Injunction Act, as in the Redding case. We are reminded that the city performs services of water purification and distribution, sewage treatment and disposal, police protection and street maintenance — functions undoubtedly vitally concerned with the health, safety and welfare of the city's inhabitants. Specifically, the city cites the preamble to the 1970 Illinois Constitution which states one of the purposes of establishing the constitution as being "In order to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people;" and art XI, sec. 1 of the 1970 Illinois Constitution which provides: "The public policy of the State and the duty of each person is to provide and maintain a healthful environment for the benefit of this and the future generations." The city also cites art. XI of the Municipal Code (Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 24, art. XI, sec. 1-1) which carries the subtitle of "Public Health, Safety and Welfare" and contains statutes authorizing (but not requiring) cities to provide fire and police protection, sewage disposal services, etc. The city finally points to certain provisions of the ...


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