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Bd. of Trustees v. Cook Cty. College Teachers





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ALBERT S. PORTER, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied August 26, 1980.

The Board of Trustees of Junior College District No. 508, Cook County, Illinois (Board), brought suit against Cook County College Teachers Union, Local 1600 (Union). The Board sought to enjoin the Union permanently from proceeding with arbitration of a grievance filed by one of its members. The Union filed a complaint against the Board seeking a permanent mandatory injunction requiring the Board to arbitrate this grievance and a grievance filed by another member. The cases were consolidated for hearing. Both the Union and the Board filed motions for summary judgment supported by affidavits. The trial court allowed the motion of the Board for summary judgment and denied the motion of the Union. The order found both grievances involve the judgment and discretion of the Board and therefore were not arbitrable. The Union has appealed.

We will consider the grievances separately. We find no disputed issue of material fact pertaining to either one.


Grievance of John Fiduccia

Fiduccia filed a grievance based on denial of his advancement to a higher "lane" or teaching category by the city college administration. The Union amplified his grievance by alleging he "has met all the criteria for lane advancement as stated" in the collective bargaining agreement. The grievance requested Fiduccia be certified as qualified for advancement from lane No. III to lane No. IV.

On December 1, 1976, the Board denied the Fiduccia grievance on the ground it was not timely filed. In addition, the ruling stated the requested advance by the grievant from lane III to lane IV was denied on the merits. Thereafter, the Union filed a demand for arbitration and this litigation followed.

The parties agree article VI, F. 3 of the collective bargaining agreement of the parties, effective from July 1, 1975, to June 30, 1977, sets out the criteria for advancement of a faculty member from lane I to a higher lane. These requirements need not be fully set out here. It suffices to state the requirements for advancement are various higher degrees plus specified amounts of semester hours of graduate credits. In addition, there are eight paragraphs defining "graduate credit" and stating the requirements for graduate credits of various types. In former contracts, such as that effective from January 1, 1971, through June 30, 1973, the descriptive word "lane" was not used and the four categories into which college teachers were divided were "instructor," "assistant professor," "associate professor," and "professor." The category headed "instructor" contains 13 various steps increasing annual salary from $9250 to $13,550. The remaining three categories contain 15 such increasing steps.

The Board contends the current subdivision into lanes is equivalent to the preceding descriptive subdivision of teaching categories. Only faculty promotions are involved here and this is a non-delegable power of the Board which is not subject to arbitration. The Union contends the net result of lane and step advancement is merely to attain a higher salary. The matter of salary has no effect upon "academic rank, responsibility or anything other than salary." Therefore, the matter is subject to arbitration.

The pertinent collective bargaining agreement between these parties provides (article X.B. 3. j. 2)):

"The arbitrator shall limit his decision strictly to the application and interpretation of the provisions of this Agreement and he shall be without power or authority to make any decision:

2) Limiting or interfering in any way with the powers, duties, and responsibilities of the Board under applicable law."

Thus, if the Fiduccia grievance pertains to the exercise by the Board of its legal responsibilities "under applicable law" the grievance could not be the subject of arbitration in accordance with the contract. This particular issue has been decided with finality. No citation of authority is required beyond the following:

(1) In Illinois Education Association Local Community High School District 218 v. Board of Education (1975), 62 Ill.2d 127, 340 N.E.2d 7, involving termination of a teacher's employment, the supreme court held this activity was within the ...

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