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03/08/88 the Village of Oak Park, v. the Illinois State Labor

March 8, 1988





522 N.E.2d 161, 168 Ill. App. 3d 7, 118 Ill. Dec. 706 1988.IL.310

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


PRESIDING JUSTICE HARTMAN delivered the opinion of the court. STAMOS and BILANDIC, JJ., concur.


We are asked to decide, on direct administrative review (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1611(e)), whether the refusal of the Village of Oak Park (Village) to recognize or bargain with respondent Oak Park Lieutenants and Sergeants Association (Association), as affiliated with the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, Labor Council (Council), constitutes an unfair labor practice under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1601 et seq.), as found by the Illinois State Labor Relations Board (Board).

The issues presented in this appeal include whether the Board erred in finding that: (1) the Village "historically recognized" the Association as the bargaining representative for the lieutenants and sergeants of the Oak Park police department (Department); (2) the Association did not waive bargaining agent status; (3) the Association is a "labor organization" within the meaning of the Act; (4) the Association's affiliation with the Council does not present a conflict of interest; and (5) petitioner's refusal to bargain with the Association is an unfair labor practice.

Because de facto historic recognition of a bargaining representative is at issue here, we are required to examine and relate that history in considerable detail, revealing the statements and conduct of the parties with respect to wages, hours, working conditions and benefits.

The Village operates under a council-manager form of government. A board of trustees acts as its legislative policy-making body. The village manager assumes administrative responsibility of personnel matters and exercises on behalf of the municipality statutory powers regarding terms of employment, subject to the policy-making authority of the trustees. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 24, par. 10-4-1.

The Association was incorporated under the General Not for Profit Corporation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 32, par. 163a et seq.) on June 2, 1982, in response to a policy instituted by then village manager Ralph De Santis to reduce wage differentials between Department patrol officers and their supervisory officers from 20% to 15%. The Association's articles of incorporation asserted as its primary purpose securing the best possible conditions of employment for the lieutenants and sergeants of the Department. The articles also stated that the organization would not act as, or perform any of the functions of, a labor organization. Membership in the Association is limited to Department lieutenants and sergeants, of whom all but one joined the organization.

Prior to 1982, wages, benefits and working conditions for the Department lieutenants and sergeants were negotiated between the Village and Lodge 8 of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (Lodge 8), which represents Department patrol officers. In 1981, however, Department lieutenants and sergeants embarked upon their own efforts to increase their wages in exchanging with De Santis salary surveys of other departments in the area.

On February 7, 1983, the Association initiated a meeting with De Santis, to "communicate a basic philosophical difference in the application of wages and benefits for Oak Park Police Officers which discriminates against" lieutenants and sergeants, and submitted a memo which included 11 "requests" for 1983, namely: (1) recognition of the Association; (2) deduction of the Association's monthly dues by the Village from lieutenants' and sergeants' pay; (3) collective bargaining with the Village; (4) a pay raise of 6.2%; (5) a health insurance plan for post-retirement; (6) a "Bill of Rights"; (7) compensation for lieutenants for overtime and the elimination of the "five hour rule," which limited overtime compensation for sergeants to any overtime worked in excess of five hours per month; (8) an increase in life insurance coverage; (9) longevity pay; (10) education incentive pay; and (11) an expanded policy for death or serious illness in the family. After De Santis met with a representative Association committee, on March 1, 1983, he denied all the Association's demands. As to "recognition," De Santis held that supervisory ranking officers were not entitled to union status.

The Association responded with a letter to the public safety committee of the Oak Park board of trustees on March 15, 1983, in which the Association complained of De Santis' "unconcerned, indifferent attitude," and requested a meeting with the committee "to discuss our concerns and discrimination tactics against the ranking officers of your police department." Representatives of the Association appeared before the Public Safety Committee, and before the personnel subcommittee on October 25, 1983.

De Santis thereafter met with Association representatives at least three more times: on November 9, 1983, January 10, 1984, and January 30, 1984. The 11 points raised in the memorandum of February 7, 1983, were again discussed. De Santis finally acceded to Association "requests" for a higher salary and for eliminating a five-hour overtime rule, substituting a different overtime pay formula. These concessions were memorialized in a written agreement, dated February 8, 1984. That agreement also stated that: the Village reserved the right to reinstate the five-hour rule under specified conditions; lieutenants would be entitled to additional compensation for staff meetings, court time and "call backs"; and the memorandum "[represented] the complete modifications to the sergeants' and lieutenants' compensation that was unanimously agreed upon." No further Discussions on these issues occurred between De Santis and the Association. None of the other Association's "requests" were met by the Village.

De Santis thereafter was replaced by John Hedges, who assumed the position of acting village manager from July 1985 until February 28, 1986.

The Association petitioned Hedges on September 30, 1985, for recognition by the Village "on all matters relating to wages, hours and conditions of employment," and enclosed signatures of 21 members of the Association to prove that more than 51% of the membership participated in this request. Hedges responded on October 14, 1985, stating that, "in keeping with our past practice," the Village would meet with Association representatives for the purpose of entering into a "letter of agreement" covering wages, hours and conditions of employment, and welcomed any proposals or suggestions by the Association, but stressed that the Village would not recognize the Association as a union.

The Association, on November 11, 1985, requested that Hedges schedule a meeting so that the Village and Association could negotiate wages, hours and working conditions, "pursuant to our past practice," and sought an expanded letter of agreement containing a larger number of detailed provisions than was included in the February 8, 1984, document signed by De Santis.

During the week of November 18, 1985, Hedges sent a memorandum to the Association reiterating the Village's position that it would not recognize the Association as a bargaining unit or bargain with it within the meaning of the Act, nor could the Act be applied to the anticipated "meet and confer" sessions between the parties. This offer to "meet and confer" was conditioned on the signature of Richard Kus, president of the Association, to an "Acknowledgment" containing these stipulations.

Negotiations between representatives of the Association and the Village commenced on December 3, 1985, without the Association having signed the "Acknowledgment." The Association presented its proposed terms of agreement to the Village on December 6, 1985, and the Village submitted its own proposal on December 10, 1985, when the parties next met. Contained in the Village's proposal was a "Management Preamble," which asserted that the Village considered police sergeants and lieutenants to be managerial or supervisory employees of the Village, specifically accountable to their superiors for the performance of their subordinates. The Association opposed the preamble, but the Village insisted upon it. Without agreement on the preamble, the parties discussed the Village's proposals and came to an immediate agreement on a grievance procedure; a bill of rights for Association members; rules for sick leave, funeral leave and vacations; uniform allowances for lieutenants and sergeants; and a savings clause.

At the next meeting, December 17, 1985, Hedges demanded that the "Acknowledgment" be signed before further Discussions ensued. Kus refused to sign it unless two additional sentences were added, namely, that: the "Acknowledgment" would be in effect only for the same period as the letter of agreement; and the signing of the "Acknowledgment" waived rights the Association "may have" under section 3(s)(2) of the Act only for the term of the agreement. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1603(s)(2).) Kus signed the document as thus amended by the Village several hours after the meeting adjourned.

When the parties again met on December 18, 1985, the Association offered a package proposal to the Village: if the Village accepted Association terms on certain items, including life insurance, overtime compensation for lieutenants and hospitalization insurance, the Association would drop its demands concerning holidays, leave for illness in the family and overtime compensation for sergeants. Chief of Police Bergstrom and Hedges found only one of the terms acceptable and the Association rescinded the package ...

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