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07/26/88 Board of Trustees, Prairie v. Educational Labor

July 26, 1988








527 N.E.2d 538, 173 Ill. App. 3d 395, 123 Ill. Dec. 75 1988.IL.1143

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


JUSTICE SPITZ delivered the opinion of the court. McCULLOUGH AND LUND, JJ., concur.


The principal question involved in these consolidated appeals is whether the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, pars. 1701 through 1721) divests the circuit court of its traditional jurisdiction to determine the arbitrability of educational labor disputes and instead vests such jurisdiction exclusively in the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (Board). Additional issues argued on appeal are (1) whether, assuming the Board has exclusive jurisdiction to determine arbitrability, the arbitrability issue must be resolved before a dispute is arbitrated; (2) whether an educational employer's refusal to arbitrate an employee grievance is an unfair labor practice within the meaning of the Act; (3) whether the labor disputes which precipitated the present proceedings are inarbitrable in view of either the language of the applicable collective-bargaining agreements or the doctrine that the discretionary powers of school boards may not be delegated; (4) whether the Board impermissibly created a new unfair labor practice in holding in a decision entered in a contested case that an educational employer's refusal to arbitrate an employee grievance constitutes an unfair labor practice, without having previously promulgated an administrative rule to that effect; and (5) whether the Board's executive director may issue a complaint charging an educational employer with an unfair labor practice.

Cause No. 4 -- 87 -- 0472 involves an alleged violation of a collective-bargaining agreement between Prairie State College (Prairie State) and the Prairie State Federation of Teachers Local 3816, IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO (Federation). The agreement became effective August 21, 1984, and terminated at the end of Prairie State's 1987 summer session.

In March 1986, Prairie State adopted a resolution honorably dismissing Lee Albrecht (Albrecht) and Al Bieker (Bieker) from employment as faculty members at the end of the 1985-86 school year. Albrecht filed a grievance pursuant to the collective-bargaining agreement between the Federation and Prairie State, alleging his dismissal violated, inter alia, the layoff procedures set forth in the agreement. He requested "[reinstatement] of my full-time faculty position at PSC." Bieker filed a similar grievance and likewise requested reinstatement to his faculty position.

With respect to layoff procedure, section 4.31 of the applicable collective-bargaining agreement provides:

"The reduction in force of faculty members shall be in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 122, Section 103 -- B5, Illinois Revised Statutes."

Section 3B -- 5 of the Public Community College Act provides:

"If a dismissal of a faculty member for the ensuing school year results from the decision by the Board [of trustees of a community college district] to decrease the number of faculty members employed by the Board or to discontinue some particular type of teaching service or program, notice shall be given to the affected faculty member . . . together with a statement of honorable dismissal and the reason therefor; provided that the employment of no tenured faculty member may be terminated under the provisions of this Section while any probationary faculty member, or any other employee with less seniority, is retained to render a service which the tenured employee is competent to render." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 103B-5.

Section 7.1 of article VII of the collective-bargaining agreement defines a grievance as: "a difference of opinion with respect to the meaning or application of the terms of this Agreement." The agreement prescribes a four-step grievance procedure. The final step is binding arbitration.

Prairie State denied both Bieker's and Albrecht's grievances, and the Federation on April 4 and April 7, 1986, demanded that the disputes be submitted to binding arbitration. Prairie State refused on grounds that (1) it never agreed to arbitrate grievances seeking reinstatement of an employee; and (2) such an agreement, if made, is void and unenforceable because arbitrators do not have authority to grant the remedy of reinstatement in the educational labor sector.

On May 1, 1986, the Federation filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, alleging that Prairie State's refusal to arbitrate Albrecht's and Bieker's grievances violated sections 14(a)(1) and 14(a)(5) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, pars. 1714(a)(1), (a)(5)). The Board issued a complaint, and the hearing officer referred the matter directly to the Board for determination. (80 Ill. Adm. Code 1120.40(f) (1985).) On June 17, 1987, the Board issued an opinion and order finding Prairie State's refusal to proceed to arbitration violated sections 14(a)(1) and 14(a)(5) of the Act. (Prairie State College, 3 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 1077, case No. 86-CA-0027-C (Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, June 17, 1987).) The Board ordered Prairie State to submit Bieker's and Albrecht's grievances to binding arbitration.

Prairie State filed a petition for review of the Board's order on July 14, 1987.

While the above proceedings were taking place before the Board, there was also a parallel proceeding in the circuit court. On July 3, 1986, Prairie State filed in the Cook County circuit court a complaint naming as defendants the Federation, the Board, Albrecht, and Bieker. The complaint requested (1) a stay of arbitration pursuant to section 2 of the Uniform Arbitration Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 10, par. 102) on the ground that Bieker's and Albrecht's grievances are inarbitrable; (2) a declaratory judgment to the effect that the Board is without jurisdiction to compel Prairie State to submit the grievances to arbitration and has no jurisdiction to investigate and issue a complaint as to the Association's unfair labor practice charge; and (3) a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining the Board from proceeding on the Association's unfair labor practice charge. On December 8, 1986, the circuit court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss on the ground that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction, because the legislature has designated the Board as the expert agency to hear "these types of disputes via unfair labor practices." Prairie State appealed the circuit court's decision, and its appeal is presently pending in the First District of this court as cause No. 1-86-3527.

Cause No. 4 -- 87 -- 0505 arose out of alleged violations of a collective-bargaining agreement entered into by the De Kalb Classroom Teachers' Association, Local 4328, IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO (Association), and De Kalb Community Unit School District 428 (district). The contract covered the period August 27, 1984, through March 30, 1985.

At the beginning of February 1985, the district posted a district-wide certified staff seniority list for the purpose of determining priority of entitlement to teaching positions in the event of a reduction in the number of teaching positions. The parties stipulated that several of the names on the seniority list were those of administrators which the collective-bargaining agreement excluded from the bargaining unit which the Association represented. The administrators were placed on the list on the basis of a system of strict district seniority.

On February 21, 1985, the Association filed grievance No. 1984 -- 4, alleging that the district's seniority list failed to conform to the terms of the collective-bargaining agreement. Specifically, the grievance alleged that the Board violated articles I, XXVI, and XXVIII of the agreement. Article I provides that the Association is the exclusive bargaining agent for "all certified teachers, nurses, social workers, and specialists" employed by the district. Supervisory personnel are not, however, included in the bargaining unit.

Article XXVI of the agreement provides in part:

"2) If it becomes necessary to remove or dismiss teachers on contractual continued service, such teachers shall be honorably dismissed according to the following criteria:

a) Teachers with ten (10) or more years of continuous service in District No. 428 prior to the reduction or dismissal shall be considered exempt from any reduction or dismissal whatsoever.

b) Teachers with less than ten (10) years of experience in District No. 428 shall be reduced or dismissed in reverse order of total continuous years experience within District No. 428, with lower years of experience ...

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