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Monmouth Public Schools v. Pullen

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 13, 1985.

MONMOUTH PUBLIC SCHOOLS, DISTRICT NO. 38, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ROSEMARY PULLEN ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Warren County; the Hon. Scott L. Klukos, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE MCCULLOUGH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 25, 1986.

Plaintiff Monmouth Public Schools, District No. 38 (district), filed this action seeking a permanent stay of a pending grievance arbitration based on section 2 of "An Act relating to arbitration and to repeal an Act therein named" (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 10, par. 102), claiming the grievance was not arbitrable and was barred under the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel by a prior arbitration award between the parties. After a hearing and briefs, the circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of the district and against defendants, finding the arbitration barred by the res judicata effect of the prior arbitration award. Defendants appeal from the judgment of the circuit court of Warren County, arguing: (1) under the Act, a stay order may be issued only on a showing that there is no agreement to arbitrate; (2) questions of arbitrability are to be decided initially by the arbitrator and not the circuit court; (3) questions of res judicata and collateral estoppel should be treated as matters of "procedural arbitrability," and decided by the arbitrator; (4) a prior arbitration award does not bar a subsequent arbitration on the ground of collateral estoppel, unless the prior arbitration involved the same parties and issues and was rendered after a full and fair hearing on the merits; and (5) the commencement of each new school year gives rise to a new claim by the grievant, MEA and other teachers, which is not barred by the prior arbitration. We affirm.

The record contains the arbitration opinion and award in Board of Education, School District No. 38, Warren County, Monmouth, Illinois, and Monmouth Education Association, AAA 51 39 0145 83B, dated August 9, 1983. The arbitration award shows that the underlying grievance, filed December 21, 1982, involved the complaint that "Rosemary Pullen was denied a credit of one year on the salary schedule for 1982-1983 after being on maternity leave for the first semester of school year 1981-1982." The grievance further alleged this was not in accord with the usual practice of the district of giving credit, or "step advancement," for a full year on the schedule for having taught less than a full year. It requested the board remain consistent in such matters and grant Pullen an additional one-year credit on the salary schedule for 1982-83. The arbitrator concluded that this grievance had not been timely brought under the four-step procedure of the collective bargaining agreement, and ruled the grievant's complaint was not arbitrable.

The grievance which underlies this appeal, dated October 3, 1983, states:

"Rosemary Pullen was denied a credit of one year on the salary schedule for 1982-1983 after being on a maternity leave for the first semester of school year 1981-1982. She has thus far also been denied advancement to the proper step for the school year 1983-1984." (Emphasis added.)

This grievance requests:

"That the Board remain consistent in matters of this nature and grant Rosemary Pullen an additional one year credit on the salary schedule for 1983-1984. Furthermore, that all other teachers affected in a like manner be properly placed on the salary schedule." (Emphasis added.)

In the order on appeal, the trial judge stated that he determined "that the relitigation of Pullen's advancement on the salary schedule attributable to the 1981-1982 school year is barred by the doctrine of res judicata."

Section 1 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 10, par. 101) provides "[a] written agreement to submit any existing controversy to arbitration or a provision in a written contract to submit to arbitration any controversy thereafter arising between the parties is valid, enforceable and irrevocable save upon such grounds as exist for the revocation of any contract, * * *." Section 2 of the Act provides in pertinent part:

"(b) On application, the court may stay an arbitration proceeding commenced or threatened on a showing that there is no agreement to arbitrate. That issue, when in substantial and bona fide dispute, shall be forthwith and summarily tried and the stay ordered if found for the moving party. If found for the opposing party, the court shall order the parties to proceed to arbitration.

(e) An order for arbitration shall not be refused on the ground that the claim in issue lacks merit or bona fides or because any fault or grounds for the claim sought to be arbitrated have not been shown." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 10, par. 102(b), (e).)

In Lodge No. 822, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union v. City of Quincy (1985), 137 Ill. App.3d 425, this court discussed the general principles governing arbitrability determinations. Special treatment is accorded arbitration arising from labor agreements as a result of three cases, often referred to as the Steelworkers Trilogy, decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1960 (United Steelworkers of America v. American Manufacturing Co. (1960), 363 U.S. 564, 4 L.Ed.2d 1403, 80 S.Ct. 1343; United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co. (1960), 363 U.S. 574, 4 L.Ed.2d 1409, 80 S.Ct. 1347; United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp. (1960), 363 U.S. 593, 4 L.Ed.2d 1424, 80 S.Ct. 1358). These cases, decided under Federal statute, stated that arbitration was regarded as a uniquely suitable procedure for settling labor disputes and, accordingly, in cases of doubt, courts should decide in favor of arbitration. As a result, arbitration provisions of collective bargaining agreements are to be given a broader interpretation than are those provisions in commercial agreements (Croom v. City of De Kalb (1979), 71 Ill. App.3d 370, 389 N.E.2d 647); and the general requirement that the agreement to arbitrate must be in "crystal clear language unextended and unenlarged either by construction or by implication" (Harrison F. Blades, Inc. v. Jarman Memorial Hospital Building Fund, Inc. (1969), 109 Ill. App.2d 224, 226, 248 N.E.2d 289, 290), applicable in the context of commercial agreements, is not applicable in the collective bargaining context.

• 1, 2 Defendants first argue that (1) a stay order may be issued only on a showing that there is no agreement to arbitrate; and (2) there is an agreement to arbitrate disputes here. While there is a presumption of arbitrability, arbitration remains a matter of contract and a party cannot be required to submit to arbitration any dispute which he has not agreed so to submit. (Croom v. City of De Kalb (1979), 71 Ill. App.3d 370, 375, 389 N.E.2d 647, 651.) Whether the subject matter of the grievance is within the scope of the agreement to arbitrate may be tested preliminarily in the courts (see, e.g., Board of Trustees v. Cook County College Teachers Union, Local 1600 (1976), 62 Ill.2d 470, 477-78, 343 N.E.2d 473, 477 (held, matter of faculty promotions is non-delegable power of board which it cannot be compelled to submit to arbitration)), as provided in section 2 of the Act (see Croom v. City of De Kalb (1979), 71 Ill. App.3d 370, 389 N.E.2d 647; Lodge No. 822, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union v. City of Quincy (1985), 137 Ill. App.3d 425). The defendants' argument was rejected in another context in J.F. Inc. v. Vicik (1981), 99 Ill. App.3d 815, 819-21, 426 N.E.2d 257, 260-62 (policy favoring joinder of all related causes). (But see Kelso-Burnett Corp. v. Zeus Development Co. (1982), 107 Ill. App.3d 34, 437 N.E.2d 26; J & K Cement Construction, Inc. v. Montalbano Builders, Inc. (1983), 119 Ill. App.3d 663, 456 N.E.2d 889; First Condominium Development Co. v. Apex Construction & Engineering Corp. (1984), 126 Ill. App.3d 843, 467 N.E.2d 932.) Vicik quotes County of Jefferson v. Barton-Douglas Contractors, Inc. (Iowa 1979), 282 N.W.2d 155, 159, stating the principle that "`[t]he prospect of multiple proceedings carrying a potential for inconsistent findings provides a basis for overriding the freedom to contract for arbitration.'" (99 Ill. App.3d 815, 819, 426 N.E.2d 257, 260.) It is the responsibility of the courts to determine whether a union and employer here agreed to ...


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