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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.


The plaintiff, Board of Trustees of Junior College District No. 508, brought this action for declaratory judgment in the Circuit Court of Cook County against the defendants, Cook County Teachers Union, Local 1600; and Norman G. Swenson, President; William Prince, Vice President; Mary Jane Rudolph, Secretary; George Trent, Treasurer; Michael C. Kaufman, Richard Lerner, Charles Simon, as individuals, as officers, as collective bargaining representatives, and as members and representatives of the class of members of the union.

The issues on appeal are whether the circuit court had jurisdiction to hear and determine the issues presented below; whether the court correctly ruled that arbitrators are without authority to award positions of public employment as remedies for alleged violations of a collective bargaining agreement; and whether the lower court ruling denies the faculty members their constitutional rights.

The Board is a body politic and corporate created by Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 122, § 101-1 et seq.) It operates seven junior colleges within the City of Chicago serving approximately 36,000 students and employing approximately 1200 full-time teachers.

The union is a membership association affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. Since May of 1967, and up to December 31, 1970, the Board and union had signed successive collective bargaining agreements in which the union was recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative for all of the Board's full-time teachers.

The Board and the union began negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement some months prior to the December 31, 1970, expiration date of their existing agreement, but negotiations did not conclude before the agreement expired.

On January 5, 1971, the teachers began a union-sponsored strike, which resulted in the Board filing an action for an injunction. After much conflict between the parties, the Board and the union began open-court public negotiations in an attempt to settle the dispute. These negotiations were completed on July 20, 1971, and the agreements were incorporated in an agreed decree entered on July 27, 1971. That decree provided in part:

"The Board and the Union, agreed on July 20, 1971, that this collective bargaining agreement between them is to be made part of this Decree so as to continue the Court's jurisdiction during the term of this agreement (to expire June 30, 1973) for purposes of applying the legal and equitable principles of contract law."

Subsequent to the entry of the agreed decree, both the Board and the Union invoked the jurisdiction of the court to resolve matters of interpretation of the agreed decree.

In the instant matter the president of one of the colleges operated by the Board recommended that the Board not rehire eight non-tenured teachers after the expiration of their 1-year contracts. The union filed grievances on behalf of the teachers seeking a review of the president's judgment and asking the arbitrator to grant employment contracts to the teachers. The case was docketed by the American Arbitration Association and set for hearing.

On July 18, 1972, the Board filed a petition for declaratory relief, requesting the court, pursuant to the agreed decree, to declare that the arbitrator could not legally grant employment contracts to teachers because that power was vested solely in the Board by statute and could not lawfully delegate it to another. The union moved to dismiss the Board's petition on the grounds the court had no jurisdiction to hear and determine the issues.

On July 20, 1972, the court entered its order denying the union's motion and directing it to answer the Board's petition. After the evidence and arguments were heard, the court published a memorandum opinion in which it granted the Board's petition, declaring the Board, by statute, was the only one that could legally hire teaching personnel for the colleges, and that the arbitrator had jurisdiction only to determine whether any of the agreed evaluation procedures incorporated in each faculty member's employment contract had been complied with. In the event he determined a faculty member had been deprived of procedures agreed to, he could only order the Board to comply with the procedure; he could not grant an employment contract as a remedy.

The court formalized this opinion by incorporating it in a decree entered on September 15, 1972, in which it ordered the Board and the union to proceed to arbitration in accordance with his published opinion. Subsequently, as part of an order entered on October 23, 1972, the court made its memorandum opinion equally applicable to two other arbitration cases in which arbitration awards had been issued subsequent to and inconsistent with his memorandum opinion. His October 23, 1972, order ...

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