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11/05/87 Respondents v. Educational Labor

November 5, 1987

APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT VIENNA SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 55, PETITIONER

v.

ILLINOIS EDUCATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD ET AL, RESPONDENTS



515 N.E.2d 476, 162 Ill. App. 3d 503, 113 Ill. Dec. 667 1987.IL.1646

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

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. SPITZ, P.J., and GREEN, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCCULLOUGH

The Vienna Elementary Education Association, IEA/NEA (Association), exclusive bargaining agent for Vienna teachers in Vienna School District No. 55 (District), filed charges with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (Board) alleging the District's failure to provide annual incremental salary increases constituted a violation of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Act). The Board found the District in violation of the Act for unfair labor practices. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, pars. 1714(a)(1), (a)(5).) On appeal, the District maintains that it was not required to implement salary increments pursuant to an expired contract during collective bargaining. We disagree and affirm the Board's order.

The facts involved were not in dispute. The only issue pending was an interpretation of the "status quo" with respect to salary subsequent to expiration of the Association's employment contract. The District argues the status quo is the actual dollar amount paid under the terms of the existing contract, while the Association maintains it is the salary structure.

In September of 1984, the District and Association entered into their first collective-bargaining agreement under the Act. This agreement was effective September 10, 1984, through one day prior to the beginning of the 1985-86 school term. The agreement incorporated a salary schedule which provided for incremental increases in salary. At the beginning of the new school year, teachers moved vertically along the salary schedule to reflect an additional year of experience and horizontally if they had acquired any additional education. This particular method of annual salary increments had been utilized by the District for the past 10 years and was automatically implemented prior to the opening of the new school term.

Prior to the expiration of the 1984-85 agreement, the District and Association negotiated a new contract. Negotiations for the 1985-86 contract, however, were still in progress at the beginning of the new school term. On August 15, 1985, eight days before school began, the teachers made their first salary demand. The District, however, refused to implement the annual step increments and compensated the teachers at the previous year's salary. The District continued to compensate the teachers at the 1984-85 rates until January of 1986, when negotiations for the 1985-86 collective-bargaining agreement were finally concluded. The agreement provided for step increments to be paid retroactive to the beginning of the school year.

In its order, the Board stated there was a duty to maintain the status quo during contract negotiations. Status quo, in this particular context, is a subjective determination requiring a consideration of the particular facts of the case involved. Status quo has been defined as a teacher's reasonable expectations deemed from the express provisions of the expired agreement and any relevant bargaining history and past practice. In light of the salary schedule contained in the 1984-85 agreement, and the past practice of automatically implementing annual step increments for additional education and experience, the Board found the Vienna teachers had a reasonable expectation of receiving the increase at the beginning of the 1985-86 school term. The Board further noted that withholding the expected advancements after the teachers opted to engage in collective bargaining might foster the impression of employer retaliation to collective bargaining. Thus, the Board concluded that the District had violated the Act by unilaterally altering the status quo during contract negotiations.

Upon review, the factual findings and Conclusions of an administrative agency shall be held prima facie true and correct. (Board of Education v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (1986), 143 Ill. App. 3d 898, 493 N.E.2d 1130.) The reviewing court may not reweigh evidence or make an independent determination of facts, and shall only interfere if authority is exercised in an arbitrary or capricious manner or the decision is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. (Board of Education v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (1986), 143 Ill. App. 3d 898, 493 N.E.2d 1130.) The reviewing court is not, however, bound by the administrative agency's interpretation of the law.

The question presented here is one of first impression in Illinois. Consequently, we turn to the precedent of other jurisdictions to guide our interpretation of the State Act.

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act was adopted to "promote orderly and constructive relations between all educational employees and their employers" and to alleviate situations injurious to the public which are caused by educational employee-employer disputes. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1701.) An educational employer commits an unfair labor practice in violation of the Act where he interferes, restrains, or coerces employees in the exercise of rights guaranteed under the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1714(a)(1)), or where it refuses to bargain collectively in good faith (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1714(a)(5)).

In NLRB v. Katz (1962), 369 U.S. 736, 8 L. Ed. 2d 230, 82 S. Ct. 1107, the United States Supreme Court established that an employer's unilateral alteration of prevailing terms and conditions of employment under negotiation during the course of bargaining constitutes an unlawful refusal to bargain. (NLRB v. Katz (1962), 369 U.S. 736, 743-47, 8 L. Ed. 2d 230, 236-38, 82 S. Ct. 1107, 1111-13.) "Unilateral" changes are those alterations implemented without prior negotiation to impasse. (NLRB v. Katz (1962), 369 U.S. 736, 8 L. Ed. 2d 230, 82 S. Ct. 1107.) Such changes are prohibited so the status quo might be maintained until new terms and conditions of employment are arrived at through bilateral negotiation and by mutual agreement. (NLRB v. Katz (1962), 369 U.S. 736, 8 L. Ed. 2d 230, 82 S. Ct. 1107; see also Galloway Township Board of Education v. Galloway Township Education Association (1978), 78 N.J. 25, 393 A.2d 218.) Unilateral changes are unlawful because they frustrate the "statutory objective of establishing working conditions through bargaining." NLRB v. Katz (1962), 369 U.S. 736, 744, 8 L. Ed. 2d 230, 236, 82 S. Ct. 1107, 1112.

A term or condition of employment is something provided by an employer which intimately and directly affects the work and welfare of the employees and which has become a mandatory subject of bargaining. (See Board of Education v. Bernards Township Education Association (1979), 79 N.J. 311, 399 A.2d 620.) Typical terms and conditions include: wages (General Motors Acceptance Corp. v. NLRB (1st Cir. 1973), 476 F.2d 850), health insurance, pension contributions (Stone Boat Yard v. NLRB (9th Cir. 1983), 715 F.2d 441, cert. denied (1984), 466 U.S. 937, 80 L. Ed. 2d 459, 104 S. Ct. 1910), life insurance, medical insurance (In re Appeal of Cumberland Valley School District (1978), 483 Pa. 134, 394 A.2d 946), and hours ...


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