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03/12/87 Service Employees v. the Illinois Educational

March 12, 1987





505 N.E.2d 418, 153 Ill. App. 3d 744, 106 Ill. Dec. 112 1987.IL.292

Petition for review of order of Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.


Justice McCullough delivered the opinion of the court. Spitz, P.J., and Green, J., concur.


The board of education of the Carbondale Community High School District No. 165 (District) hired an independent contractor to perform its custodial and maintenance work. It, then, terminated the employment of its custodial and maintenance staff. The Service Employees International Local Union No. 316 , which represented the custodial and maintenance staff, brought an unfair labor practice charge against the District (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, pars. 1714(a)(1), (a)(5)). The hearing officer found that the District had violated sections 14(a)(1) and (a)(5) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, pars. 1714(a)(1), (a)(5)). The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (Board) supplemented the hearing officer's findings of fact, rejected the standard of review which she used, and found the District had not committed any unfair labor practice. SEIU appeals, arguing the Board's decision is contrary to the law and not supported by the manifest weight of the evidence.

The genesis of this action is a decision by the District to subcontract its custodial and maintenance services for the high schools. SEIU alleged that the District had failed to bargain in good faith about its decision to subcontract the custodial and maintenance work and that the decision to subcontract was motivated by antiunion animus.

SEIU had represented the custodial and maintenance employees for several years, and the parties had entered into a series of collective-bargaining agreements. Bill Schwegman, a member of the board of education, testified that prior to the current difficulty, the District and SEIU had been on friendly terms. The last collective-bargaining agreement was a two-year agreement which expired on June 30, 1984. This agreement pertained to 10 custodial and 2 maintenance employees.

Members of the board of education for the District testified that the District was in financial difficulty and had experienced budget deficits prior to the 1983-84 school year. At the February 1984 meeting, independent contracting was discussed as a potential cost-cutting method. Don Yost, the business manager for the District, was authorized to investigate savings methods and report back. Yost later circulated a memo, delineating potential cost savings, and eventually the board of education authorized the letting of bids. The decision to subcontract was not based on antiunion sentiment and cost was the overriding factor. Although each member testified about the precise sequence of events, their testimonies were consistent with Yost's testimony and records which were submitted.

Yost testified that he had been the business manager for the District for several years. The topic of subcontracting, independent contracting for custodial and maintenance work, to save money originally arose four to five years prior to the 1983-84 school year. In the fall of 1983, a $177,000 budget deficit occurred. The superintendent asked Yost to look into methods of dealing with the economic problems. The projected costs for custodial and maintenance work by SEIU employees were $243,000 for custodial work and $40,000 for maintenance work. On February 20, 1984, at the regular board meeting, Yost was directed to obtain information on the advantages and disadvantages of independent contracting for custodial services.

He did so and submitted a report of his findings in March 1984. He and the board of education members discussed the findings. Yost stated that the sole reason for contracting out services was economic. He estimated a $22,000 savings by subcontracting custodial work. After March 30, 1984, in an executive session, the board of education instructed Yost to prepare bid specifications. He did so, using other districts' bids as a pattern.

Elmer Brandhorst, business manager for SEIU, stated that in late March or early April 1984, Yost told him informally that the District was considering contracting out services. On April 17, 1984, SEIU sent a letter to the District requesting that it meet to negotiate the contract for the 1983-84 school year.

On May 11, 1984, Yost, Brandhorst, and other representatives met to discuss collective bargaining. The meeting lasted approximately 15 minutes. The District acknowledged receipt of the bargaining request. After the meeting, Brandhorst stated that Yost again told him about the possibility of hiring an independent contractor to perform custodial services. Brandhorst told Yost that the union was in negotiation for a new contract and would like to continue.

Brandhorst further testified that between May 11, 1984, and June 18, 1984, Yost told him that bids were going to be submitted for independent contracting. There was no formal invitation for the union to bid. On June 4, 1984, Yost sent Brandhorst a copy of the bid specifications for custodial services. On May 17, 1984, the board of education voted to accept bids for custodial services. The board of education members stated that the bids were received to determine the actual cost. Bids were opened on June 11, 1984. Brandhorst was present when the bids were opened. He was told that City Wide Maintenance had a low bid of $105,000, plus approximately $4,000 for extra duties.

On June 15, 1984, Yost sent Brandhorst a letter stating that because of the great cost savings, the District was seriously considering a subcontract for custodial services. The letter asked to meet with the union as soon as possible to bargain on the matter. The letter also noted that the District was willing to explain the economic reasons and potential savings involved in a subcontract arrangement. The letter noted that the bid which had been received from City Wide Maintenance was approximately $135,000 less than the cost projection for in-house custodial work.

The bargaining committees for SEIU and the District met again on June 18, 1984. Yost testified that he told SEIU that he was shocked about the potential cost savings. He specifically asked Brandhorst to bargain along the line of a money figure which would match City Wide Maintenance's bid. Brandhorst was concerned that the independent contractor could not meet the bid specifications for cleaning. Yost told him that the bid included a performance bond, which the District would enforce. Yost further stated that he also told Brandhorst that ...

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