SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
526 N.E.2d 149, 123 Ill. 2d 216, 122 Ill. Dec. 9 1988.IL.968
Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Coles County, the Hon. Joseph C. Moore, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the court.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CLARK
The sole question on this appeal is whether the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1701 et seq.) divests the circuit courts of jurisdiction to vacate or enforce arbitration awards in public education. We answer this question in the affirmative.
The appellant is the board of education of Community School District No. 1, Coles County. The appellees are Jeffrey Earle Compton, the Charleston Education Association, and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (Board). The circuit court of Coles County granted judgment for the appellant, and vacated an arbitrator's award in favor of the appellees. The appellate court reversed, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction over the arbitration award. (157 Ill. App. 3d 439.) We granted the appellant's petition for leave to appeal. 107 Ill. 2d R. 315.
The appellee Compton was employed by the appellant as a nontenured teacher. The second appellee, the Charleston Education Association, is his exclusive bargaining agent. The appellant terminated Compton's employment at the end of the 1983-84 school year, allegedly in violation of the collective-bargaining agreement between the appellant and the Association. Under the agreement, the appellant recognized the appellee Association as the exclusive bargaining representative of District No. 1's certified teaching personnel. The agreement provided certain procedures for the evaluation and termination of teachers. It also provided a grievance-arbitration procedure for resolving disputes concerning alleged violations of the agreement. Following Compton's dismissal, Compton and the Association brought a grievance against the appellant.
The grievance was submitted to binding arbitration under the agreement and the arbitrator ruled in favor of the appellees, ordering Compton reinstated with full back wages and other benefits. The appellant school district then filed a petition in the circuit court to vacate the arbitrator's award. The appellees cross-petitioned to confirm the award. After both parties moved for summary judgment, the circuit court granted judgment for the appellant and vacated the award. The appellees then moved for reconsideration, and the appellee Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board was allowed to intervene. Upon reconsideration the circuit court again ruled in favor of the appellant.
The appellate court reversed the circuit court, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to vacate or enforce an arbitration award because original jurisdiction over educational arbitration awards belonged exclusively to the Board. (157 Ill. App. 3d 439.) One Judge on the appellate panel filed a special concurrence, noting that the court's decision might in certain situations "lead to disruption in public education," but concluding that "fine tuning" of the legislation was the responsibility of the General Assembly. (157 Ill. App. 3d at 445 (Lund, J., specially Concurring).) The third Judge on the panel Dissented, noting that certain issues arising from arbitration might, under the majority's interpretation, be rendered unreviewable. (157 Ill. App. 3d at 445 (Green, J., Dissenting).) The split in this case reflects differences on this issue among other panels of the appellate court. (Compare Board of Trustees of Community Colleges District No. 508 v. Cook County College Teachers Union, Local No. 1600 (1985), 139 Ill. App. 3d 617 (holding that circuit courts retain jurisdiction over educational arbitration awards), and Board of Education of Rockford School District No. 205 v. Rockford Education Association (1986), 150 Ill. App. 3d 198 (same), with Chicago Board of Education v. Chicago Teachers Union (1986), 142 Ill. App. 3d 527 (holding that circuit courts lack jurisdiction over educational arbitration awards).) We granted the appellant's petition for leave to appeal.
This case turns on the interpretation of the recently enacted Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, pars. 1701 through 1721). The Act revolutionizes Illinois school labor law. It permits collective bargaining, and, within certain limitations, the right to strike. Finding that unresolved educational labor disputes were "injurious to the public," the legislature determined that "adequate means must be established for minimizing them and providing for their resolution." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1701.) Accordingly, the legislature declared:
"It is the public policy of this State and the purpose of this Act to promote orderly and constructive relationships between all educational employees and their employers. Unresolved disputes between the educational employees and their employers are injurious to the public, and the General Assembly is therefore aware that adequate means must be established for minimizing them and providing for their resolution." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1701.
To achieve these ends, the Act grants certain rights and imposes certain duties. Employees have the right to organize and to select their bargaining representatives. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1703.) Employers have the right to refuse to bargain over certain "matters of inherent managerial policy." On the other hand, employers must bargain with a recognized collective bargaining representative over "wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, pars. 1704, 1710(a).
Once a recognized bargaining agent has been created (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1707), both parties must bargain collectively, must meet at reasonable times, must confer in good faith, and must reduce their agreements to writing. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 1710.) The written collective-bargaining agreement "shall contain a grievance resolution procedure" and "shall provide for binding arbitration of disputes concerning the administration and interpretation of the agreement." It must also contain a prohibition upon strikes during the term of the agreement. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. ...