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Board of Trustees v. College Teachers Union

SEPTEMBER 25, 1974.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. NATHAN M. COHEN, Judge, presiding.


This is an interlocutory appeal from an order entered on April 2, 1973, in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The order granted to the plaintiff, the Board of Trustees of Junior College District No. 508, its motion to preliminarily enjoin the defendant, Cook County College Teachers Union, Local 1600, from proceeding in certain designated arbitration cases between the parties.

The issues presented for review are whether the Uniform Arbitration Act provides the exclusive remedy for restraining arbitration, and whether it was error for the court to hear the case under the assignment number of a previous case.

The parties were engaged in a collective-bargaining relationship since 1967. In May of 1970, the union presented to the board five grievances on behalf of various faculty members, alleging that they had been denied promotions in rank in violation of "past practices" of the Board allegedly covered by the collective-bargaining agreement. As remedies the union demanded promotions for each of the grievants to the faculty rank immediately above the rank they occupied at that time.

The grievances were denied by the board, the union filed demands for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association, and the cases were docketed by the Association.

On October 20, 1970, the union, with the board's consent, requested these cases be held in abeyance because of pending negotiations between the parties concerning the subject matter of the grievances.

In September of 1972, the union advised the American Arbitration Association of its desire to reinstate the grievances on its calendar for hearing.

On March 29, 1973, the board filed a petition for an injunction and an accompanying motion for a preliminary injunction, alleging that the matter of promotions is not subject to arbitration under the prior or present collective-bargaining agreements, and remains a matter within the discretion of the Board which cannot be lawfully delegated to an arbitrator or limited by a collective-bargaining agreement.

The union filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's petition for injunction and to deny its motion for the preliminary injunction. On April 2, 1973, the court entered an order granting the board leave to file its petition and motion, denying the union's motion to dismiss, and temporarily enjoining the arbitration of the union's grievances.

This case was consolidated for hearing in the appellate court with Case Number 58326 because this dispute arose out of the continuing litigation between the same parties and because the issue in each case is whether the parties were required to proceed under the Uniform Arbitration Act rather than seeking relief in the circuit court.

The Union first contends the circuit court may only enter an order enjoining an arbitration upon a showing that there is no agreement to arbitrate the issue which is the subject of the arbitration. Section 2(b) of the Uniform Arbitration Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 10, § 102(b)) reads as follows:

"On application, the court may stay an arbitration proceeding commenced or threatened on a showing that there is no agreement to arbitrate. That issue, when in substantial and bona fide dispute, shall be forthwith and summarily tried and the stay ordered if found for the moving party. If found for the opposing party, the court shall order the parties to proceed to arbitration."

The union also relies on the case of School District No. 46 v. Del Bianco (1966), 68 Ill. App.2d 145, for the proposition that section 2(b) provides the exclusive remedy for staying arbitration. The court stated:

"The foregoing provisions of the Act militate against the contention that a party to an arbitration agreement may choose between the judicial or arbitration forum. The sole issue under the Act on the preliminary hearings to compel or stay arbitration, is whether there is an agreement to arbitrate. If so, the court should order arbitration; if not, arbitration should be refused. Upon this ...

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