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International Harvester Co. v. Bowling

OPINION FILED JUNE 11, 1979.

INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

WILLIAM M. BOWLING, DIRECTOR OF LABOR, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD L. CURRY, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE GOLDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

International Harvester Company (plaintiff) filed proceedings to review an administrative decision by the Director of Labor of Illinois allowing various consolidated claims for unemployment compensation (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 110, par. 264 et seq.), involving workers at Rock Island and Canton. The trial court reversed the administrative decision. Defendants appeal.

The defendants here are William M. Bowling, now Director of Labor of Illinois and formerly president of Local Union 1309 of the United Auto Workers of Rock Island; R.L. Ullrich, secretary of Local 1310, and 10 individuals who are officers and executive board members of Local 1357 of Canton, Illinois. Members of Local 1309 and Local 1310 were employed by International Harvester Company in Rock Island at its Farmall Works, and members of Local 1357 were employed by plaintiff in Canton.

In January of 1971 a nationwide strike took place at all plants operated by plaintiff. This included the employees in Rock Island and Canton here involved. A national agreement was reached and a settlement made by January 24, 1971. But, the members of Locals 1309 and 1310 in Rock Island, and 1357 in Canton, were not recalled to work until after January 31, 1971. The involved employees numbered well over 1000 individuals.

These persons made claims with the Department of Labor, Division of Unemployment Insurance under the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 48, pars. 300 to 820.) Plaintiff raised an issue as to whether the applicants were unable to work because of a labor dispute and therefore were not eligible for unemployment benefits. See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 48, par. 434, referred to as section 604 of the Unemployment Insurance Act.

These claims were examined by a "claims adjudicator" in the department. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 48, par. 451.) A determination was made that all of the claimants were ineligible for benefits. Appeals were taken to the Director of Labor. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 48, par. 470.) At that time the Director was Mr. Barney Grabiec.

As regards Local 1357 in Canton, the claims adjudicator made his determination on the claims of approximately 87 persons. An appeal was taken to the Director of Labor (hereinafter Director), by Michael E. Hogan, president of Local 1357 of Canton. A list of approximately 80 of the members of the local union in whose behalf the appeal was being taken was submitted with the notice. In addition, 10 individual union members of Local 1357 of Canton also filed appeals from the decision of the claims adjudicator to the Director. Appeals to the Director were similarly taken in behalf of the members of Locals 1309 and 1310 of Rock Island. William M. Bowling, then president of Local 1309, wrote to the Department of Labor on March 9, 1971, and stated that he was making "a blanket appeal for all members of Local 1309" who had "duly registered with the Unemployment Compensation Division" for the dates in question. Appended to his letter was a list of approximately 1000 union members who fell within this classification. R.L. Ullrich, secretary of Local 1310, filed a notice of appeal to the Director in behalf of members of that local union.

Mr. Barney Grabiec, then Director of Labor, appointed two representatives to hear the appeals. The appeals for Locals 1309 and 1310 of Rock Island were heard by Sol E. Feldbein. The appeals pertaining to the employees of Local 1357 of Canton were heard by Abe M. Linderman. The hearings before Mr. Feldbein were completed by the end of 1974. The hearing before Mr. Linderman was completed during 1973.

On May 1, 1977, William M. Bowling became Director of Labor of Illinois. The Director's representatives sent out their reports during June of 1977. Both the representatives agreed that all of the employees of plaintiff were ineligible to receive unemployment compensation for the period from January 13, 1971, to January 23, 1971, but not thereafter from January 24, 1971, to January 30, 1971. These results were contrary to the results reached by the claims adjudicators. Plaintiff objected to the reports on the theory that the appeals from the claim adjudicators to the Director were improperly filed as "blanket appeals" by the labor unions or their representatives or were in some cases tardily filed by individual claimants. This same point was subsequently raised by plaintiff in the administrative review proceedings.

In July of 1977, Director Bowling prepared and published his decisions approving the position taken by the Director's representatives. This allowed all of the employees in question their unemployment compensation from January 24, 1971, to January 30, 1971, inclusive. Plaintiff's appeal in administrative review followed in due course. The trial court reversed these decisions of the Director upon the specific ground that William M. Bowling was disqualified from rendering his decision because of his earlier participation in the proceedings.

In this court, separate briefs have been filed by William M. Bowling as Director of Labor and also by R.L. Ullrich and the 10 individuals from Local 1357 of Canton. These parties contend that plaintiff has failed to perfect its appeal in accordance with the mandatory requirements of the Administrative Review Act as regards necessary parties so that the trial court should have dismissed the appeal. In addition, they contend that the trial court erred in reversing the order appealed from because of an alleged conflict of interest in that William M. Bowling as Director of Labor was also an interested litigant. Plaintiff contends that all parties of record have been properly joined; Mr. Bowling was disqualified from acting as Director and that the original appeals taken from the determination of the claims adjudicators in the administrative agency were invalid.

• 1 We will first consider the alleged conflict of interest in the dual capacity of William M. Bowling. It is a fundamental and ancient principle of jurisprudence "that no man is to be judge in his own cause; and that is not to be confined to a cause in which he is a party, but a cause in which he has an interest." People ex rel. Rusch v. Cunningham (1941), 308 Ill. App. 63, 67, 31 N.E.2d 369, citing Dimes v. Grand Junction Canal Co. (1852), 10 Eng. Rep. 301.

• 2 Mr. Bowling's "interest" in the instant case is clearly disclosed by the record before this court. During the nationwide strike of plaintiff's plants, Mr. Bowling was the president of UAW Local 1309. He was a witness at the hearings concerning the validity of the unemployment claims in question. He made a "blanket appeal" in his own name for all members of Local 1309. Subsequently he allowed those claims and others as Director of Labor. In that capacity he approved a result contrary to the decisions of the claim adjudicators although admittedly in accord with that reached by the representatives designated by Mr. Bowling's predecessor as Director of Labor. It is difficult to imagine a more graphic depiction of "interest" as contemplated by the Cunningham court.

The Illinois Supreme Court has firmly established that judicial or quasi-judicial determinations may not be rendered by individuals with a personal interest in the ruling to be made. In In re Heirich (1956), 10 Ill.2d 357, 384, 140 N.E.2d 825, cert. denied sub nom. Ericksen v. ...


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