APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT
521 N.E.2d 103, 165 Ill. App. 3d 640, 118 Ill. Dec. 35 1988.IL.103
Petition for review of order of Illinois State Labor Relations Board.
JUSTICE DUNN delivered the opinion of the court. LINDBERG, P.J., and WOODWARD, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE DUNN
The City of Wood Dale (City), pursuant to section 11 (e) of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1611(e)), appeals from an order of the Illinois State Labor Relations Board (Board), which found the City guilty of an unfair labor practice for refusing to bargain with a bargaining unit previously certified by the Board. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, pars. 1610(a)(1), (a)(4).) Teamsters Local Union No. 714 (Union) is an additional respondent. The issue presented for review addresses the Board's inclusion of two detectives of the City of Wood Dale police department in the bargaining unit.
On February 19, 1986, the Union filed a representation petition seeking certification as the exclusive representative for a collective bargaining unit of patrolmen, detectives, and assistant watch commanders of the City of Wood Dale. At the hearing on the petition, the City objected to the inclusion of the detectives, whose duties included internal investigations, on grounds they were confidential employees (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1603(c)) and had a conflict of interest with the patrol officers. The hearing officer rejected these contentions. In her recommended opinion, the hearing officer determined the factual record was insufficient to permit her to determine whether detectives were confidential employees, and the infrequency of the internal investigations in the small Wood Dale police department did not create a conflict of interest between the detectives and the patrol officers. On September 5, the Board accepted the recommendation of the hearing officer and ordered a representation election to be held. The election was held; thereafter, the Union was certified as the exclusive representative of the unit. On November 10, the Union filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging that the City had refused to meet and negotiate with the Union. On April 22, 1987, the Board adopted the hearing officer's recommendation finding that the City had committed an unfair labor practice. The City appeals from that order.
On appeal, the City argues the detectives are confidential employees and therefore should not be included in the bargaining unit, and the detectives do not belong in the same bargaining unit as the patrol officers. The Board contends its finding that detectives were not confidential employees is not against the manifest weight of the evidence and its bargaining unit determination that detectives should be included in the same unit as patrol officers is not clearly inappropriate. The Union contends the Board's findings are supported by law and the manifest weight of the evidence.
At the outset, a summary of the standards applicable to our review of the Board's action is in order. The function of the reviewing court is to determine whether the agency's findings are against the manifest weight of the evidence (Board of Education v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (1986), 143 Ill. App. 3d 898, 906), i.e., whether an opposite Conclusion is clearly evident. (Rockford Township Highway Department v. Illinois State Labor Relations Board (1987), 153 Ill. App. 3d 863, 872.) Although a reviewing court may not reweigh evidence or make independent determinations of facts, it must insure that an objective, rational decision was arrived at after a fair hearing at which competent evidence was introduced. (Rockford, 153 Ill. App. 3d at 872; Board of Education, 143 Ill. App. 3d at 906.) While a reviewing court is not formally bound by an agency's interpretations of law, administrative decisions interpreting the legal effect of statutory language are generally given great weight by the judiciary. (Laborer's International Union v. Illinois State Labor Relations Board (1987), 154 Ill. App. 3d 1045, 1057.) Against this backdrop, we proceed to a review of the contentions raised by the parties.
The first question we must resolve is whether the Board's determination that the two detectives should not be excluded as confidential employees was against the manifest weight of the evidence. Section 3(c) of the Act defines a confidential employee as
"an employee, who in the regular course of his or her duties, assists and acts in a confidential capacity to persons who formulate, determine and effectuate management policies with regard to labor relations or who in the regular course of his or her duties has authorized access to information relating to the effectuation or review of the employer's collective bargaining policies." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1603(c).)
The instant appeal concerns only the first prong of the definition, which is commonly referred to as the "labor nexus" test. (Board of Education, 143 Ill. App. 3d at 907-08; B. F. Goodrich Co. (1956), 115 NLRB 722, 724.) Therefore, whether the detectives are confidential employees depends on whether they assist and act in a confidential manner to persons who formulate, determine and effectuate labor relations policies for the City of Wood Dale. (Board of Education, 143 Ill. App. 3d at 908.) The Board determined the detectives were not confidential employees under the labor nexus test because the record failed to establish whether the persons assisted by the detectives performed the labor relations management functions for the City. Our review of the record supports the findings of the Board.
At the hearing on the representation petition, the evidence presented clearly established the detectives are responsible for conducting internal investigations of fellow patrol officers and background checks of prospective patrol officers. While not entirely clear from our review of the record, we defer to the Board's findings that the detectives perform these investigations at the direction of the chief of police or the city manager, and that the chief of police conveys the information obtained by the detectives to the police and fire board. Regardless, the record is devoid of any evidence concerning the labor relations responsibilities of the City of Wood Dale employees who are purportedly assisted by the detectives. Contrary to the City's claim, the "City of Wood Dale, Department of Police, Law Enforcement, Role and Authority Manual" fails to set forth the required information. We decline the City's invitation to infer from the evidence presented that the responsibilities of the parties purportedly assisted by the detectives include management decisions relating to labor relations policy. Consequently, whether the parties assisted by the detectives formulate, determine, and effectuate the labor relations policies for the City of Wood Dale cannot be determined. (Cf. City of Burbank, 1 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 2008, case No. 5 -- RC -- 45 (Illinois State Labor Relations Board, June 6, 1985).) It follows that the detectives cannot be classified as confidential employees. (Board of Education, 143 Ill. App. 3d at 911.) Therefore, the Board's finding in favor of the Union was not against the manifest weight of the evidence.
We next address whether the detectives should be included in the same bargaining unit with their fellow patrol officers. Section 9(b) of ...