Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur
L. Dunne, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE SULLIVAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiffs appeal from an order of the trial court dismissing for lack of subject matter jurisdiction their action to compel defendants to arbitrate certain salary grievances. The sole issue before us is the propriety of that dismissal.
This dispute arose from a collective bargaining agreement (the agreement) entered into on July 1, 1981, between Local 3236 of the Illinois Federation of State Office Educators, IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO (the Federation) and the Illinois State Board of Education (the Board), which provided for an 8% increase in annual salary effective July 1, 1982. According to plaintiffs' complaint, the Board notified the Federation in January of 1982 that because of expected decreases in governmental funding for education, it would be necessary to lay off several Federation members. In order to avert the impending layoffs, the Federation and the Board entered into a supplemental agreement on June 24, 1982, which provided in relevant part:
"A. The Federation agrees to postpone the scheduled 8% increase due July 1, 1982.
B. Management agrees to defer all current layoff notices for bargaining unit members.
C. Once the final appropriations amount is law and the first priority of eliminating layoffs of bargaining unit personnel is accomplished, additional available and useable personal service funds will be committed to salary increases to a maximum of 8%.
D. Management further agrees that once the final appropriation amount is law and layoffs have been eliminated, one (1) additional negotiation session will be scheduled (no more than eight hours of bargaining during a twenty-four hour period) for the sole purpose of reviewing and identifying useable and available resources in order to implement item C."
Sometime thereafter, the personal services appropriation became final, and the Board implemented a 2.2% salary increase. Plaintiffs, asserting that the appropriation contained sufficient funds to implement a greater increase, filed the following grievance:
"In accordance with Article 20, Grievances, of the AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE ILLINOIS FEDERATION OF STATE OFFICE EDUCATORS, I am filing the following grievance on behalf of myself and all bargaining unit members:
That the Employer (management) has failed to comply with Section I, C and I, D of the contract as it was amended as well as Article 27, Salary, and Article 28, Salary Schedule, by failing to commit available and useable resources to increase salaries to a maximum of 8 percent in addition to implementing step increases when and where appropriate.
Whereas, the General Assembly has appropriated adequate funds and the Governor has signed into law these appropriations enabling management to comply fully with Section I, C of the contract as amended, I am requesting that all appropriated step increases and across the board raises of 8 percent be implemented immediately retroactive to July 1, 1982."
Plaintiffs allege in their complaint that they followed the five-step grievance procedure set forth in the agreement, and that their grievance was denied at each step. They then demanded that the matter be submitted to arbitration pursuant to article 20 of the agreement, which provides in relevant part:
"Section 1. A grievance shall mean a dispute or difference of opinion raised by an employee against the Employer involving the meaning, interpretation, or application of the specific provisions of this Agreement.
Section 4. If the grievance is not settled in accordance with [5-step procedure], the Federation may refer the grievance to arbitration within ten (10) weekdays after ...