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11/04/87 Cheryl R. Svoboda Et Al., v. the Department of Mental

November 4, 1987

CHERYL R. SVOBODA ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS

v.

THE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

515 N.E.2d 446, 162 Ill. App. 3d 366, 113 Ill. Dec. 637 1987.IL.1639

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. Marvin D. Dunn, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE INGLIS delivered the opinion of the court. HOPF and WOODWARD, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE INGLIS

This is an action brought under the Uniform Arbitration Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 10, pars. 101 through 123) by plaintiffs, Cheryl R. Svoboda and Peggy R. Morgan, to vacate a labor arbitrator's decision discharging plaintiffs from their positions with defendant, the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. On defendants' motion, the trial court dismissed the complaint for lack of standing. Plaintiffs timely appealed. We reverse.

On September 9, 1985, plaintiffs were discharged from their positions with defendant, the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO , the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit of which plaintiffs were members, requested an arbitration proceeding pursuant to the arbitration provisions of the collective bargaining agreement between AFSCME and defendant, the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. After a hearing before an arbitrator, an arbitration award was issued denying plaintiffs relief. Thereafter, plaintiffs filed in the circuit court a complaint to vacate the arbitrator's decision. On defendants' motion, the trial court dismissed the complaint on the ground that plaintiffs lacked standing.

Both plaintiffs and defendants agree that this case is controlled by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, pars. 1601 through 1627) and the Illinois Uniform Arbitration Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 10, pars. 101 through 123). The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act provides that it is subject to the Illinois Uniform Arbitration Act. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1608.

Ordinarily, in determining whether a party has standing, the primary focus is whether the party seeking adjudication has a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy. (Wolinsky v. Kadison (1983), 114 Ill. App. 3d 527, 530; Weihl v. Dixon (1977), 56 Ill. App. 3d 251, 253.) The requirement of standing is not meant to preclude a valid controversy from being litigated, rather, it is to preclude persons having no interest in the controversy from bringing suit. (Wolinsky, 114 Ill. App. 3d at 530.) In the present case, plaintiffs have a definite interest in the outcome of the controversy -- their jobs. Thus, at the outset we presume that plaintiffs have standing.

Defendants, however, contend plaintiffs do not have standing because section 16 of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1616) limits actions seeking to vacate an arbitrator's award to "parties" to a collective bargaining agreement. Defendant thus argues that the term "parties" does not include plaintiffs, but rather is limited to bargaining representatives and employers. We reject this argument. Section 16 states:

"Exhaustion of non-judicial remedies. After the exhaustion of any arbitration mandated by this Act or any procedures mandated by a collective bargaining agreement, suits for violation of agreements . . . between a public employer and a labor organization representing public employees may be brought by the parties to such agreement in the circuit court in the county in which the public employer transacts business or has its principal office." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1616.)

Thus, on its face section 16 allows at least the union and the employer to petition a circuit court to vacate an arbitrator's award. However, we do not believe that section 16 limits such a procedure to only unions and employers. Statutory provisions cannot be read alone; rather, statutes must be read as a whole. (Winks v. Board of Education (1979), 78 Ill. 2d 128, 135.) Looking to the rest of the statute, section 1606(b) of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1606(b)) clearly allows an individual employee to bring a grievance on his own without aid of his union. Section 6(b) provides:

"Nothing in this Act prevents an employee from presenting a grievance to the employer and having the grievance heard and settled without the intervention of an employee organization; provided that the exclusive bargaining representative is afforded the opportunity to be present at such conference and that any settlement made shall not be inconsistent with the terms of any agreement in effect between the employer and the exclusive bargaining representative." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1606(b).

We are convinced that it was not the legislature's intent to allow suits to vacate an arbitrator's award to be brought by unions which have instituted grievance procedures on behalf of their members, but not suits by members who have brought grievance procedures on behalf of themselves. Thus, it is our opinion that the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act allows an individual employee to bring a grievance, compel arbitration, receive an award, and seek to vacate the award in a circuit court. Consequently, the language of section 16 of the Illinois ...


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