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Bd. of Educ. v. Springfield Educ. Ass'n

OPINION FILED MARCH 15, 1977.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF SPRINGFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS, DISTRICT NO. 186, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

THE SPRINGFIELD EDUCATION ASSOCIATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. PAUL C. VERTICCHIO, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied May 2, 1977.

"STATUS QUO: The existing state of things at any given date. * * * Last actual, peaceable, noncontested condition which preceded pending controversy. * * *" Black's Law Dictionary 1581 (4th ed. 1951).

The Board of Education of Springfield School District No. 186 brought an action for injunctive relief and damages, seeking to restrain defendants, the Springfield Education Association (SEA) and certain named persons, both individually and as representatives of the Springfield Teachers Association, from engaging in a work stoppage at plaintiff's schools. On motion of the Board, the trial court issued a temporary restraining order, prohibiting the SEA and the individual defendants from striking or picketing the schools. As part of the order, the trial court found that the 1975-76 contract between the parties constituted the status quo, restrained the Board from maintaining a previously imposed salary freeze, and directed the Board to pay the teachers pursuant to the expired contract. The Board appeals from the latter portion of this order and from the denial of its subsequent motion to modify the order.

In short — we affirm.

Now, to the reasons.

The Board raises three issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court improperly found that the status quo was the expired contract; (2) whether the trial court unlawfully interfered with the Board's statutory authority to set wages; and (3) whether the trial court erroneously issued a mandatory injunction in ordering the Board to pay the teachers pursuant to the expired contract.

On July 1, 1974, the Board and SEA entered into a two-year collective bargaining agreement covering wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment for the school years 1974-75 and 1975-76. Among its numerous provisions, the agreement set forth salary schedules for both nurses and teachers represented by SEA. Wages under these schedules are determined, with some exceptions, on the basis of years of service (the "step" or vertical column) and professional attainment (horizontal column).

A number of months before the date of the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, which was June 30, 1976, the Board and SEA commenced negotiations for a new agreement. The Board had, according to the affirmative defense filed by defendants, adopted a resolution on March 1, 1976, "freezing" teachers' salaries, effective July 1, 1976, at the wage rate then applicable to each position under the schedule set forth in the collective bargaining agreement for the school year 1975-76.

Negotiations continued into August of 1976, when the Board mailed to the teachers an "appointment letter" for the purpose of employing teachers for the 1976-77 school year. The letter specified the rate of pay for a teacher under the previously announced wage freeze, which was under the teachers' last step and column placement during the 1975-76 school year.

On August 24, 1976, a workshop day was scheduled for the teachers. This was a paid workshop, but no pupil instruction was involved. Almost all of the 1032 teachers reported for work on this date. The next day, however, the first day of scheduled classes, SEA struck the Board. More than 75 percent of the teachers did not report for work. The Board immediately filed a complaint for injunction and a motion for a temporary restraining order. A portion of the order issued in response to the Board's motion is the subject of this appeal.

The Board first asserts that the trial court erroneously found that the status quo was the situation existing prior to the freeze order by the Board, that is, the 1975-76 contract. Rather, the Board, argues, the status quo is to be found on August 24, 1976, the day the teachers participated in the workshop. Prior to that time the Board contends that there was no dispute or controversy from which to determine the status quo. According to the Board, the strike interrupted the status quo.

• 1 The purpose of a temporary restraining order is to preserve the status quo until the trial court can consider the case on the merits. (Bohn Aluminum & Brass Co. v. Barker (1973), 55 Ill.2d 177, 303 N.E.2d 1.) As we noted at the head end of this opinion, the status quo is defined as the last actual, peaceable, uncontested status which preceded the controversy. (Armour & Co. v. United American Food Processors, Inc. (1976), 37 Ill. App.3d 132, 345 N.E.2d 795.) The granting or denial of a temporary restraining order rests in the sound discretion of the trial court. (Mars, Inc. v. Curtiss Candy Co. (1972), 8 Ill. App.3d 338, 290 N.E.2d 701.) The issue here is whether the last actual, peaceable, uncontested status which preceded the controversy was the participation of the teachers in the workshop, or the existing contract.

• 2, 3 We must hold that the trial court correctly found that the status quo was the existing contract. We disagree with the Board that there was no dispute or controversy prior to the strike. A labor dispute exists where both the union and the employer have submitted demands concerning wages and conditions of employment, and these demands have been neither accepted nor compromised. (See Central Foundry Division of General Motors Corp. v. Holland (1976), 36 Ill. App.3d 998, 345 N.E.2d 143.) The evidence here shows that negotiations had been taking place for many months and that no agreement was reached. Moreover, both counsel agreed at oral argument that the "freeze order" actually was adopted before negotiations commenced. And, in fact, negotiations occurred the weekend before the schools were to reopen and continued after the strike began. From this evidence, we conclude that the controversy ...


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