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02/09/89 Decatur Board of Education v. Educational Labor

February 9, 1989





536 N.E.2d 743, 180 Ill. App. 3d 770, 130 Ill. Dec. 368 1989.IL.153

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

Supplemental Opinion Filed on Denial of Rehearing April 19, 1989.


JUSTICE LUND delivered the opinion of the court. KNECHT, J., concurs. JUSTICE GREEN, Concurring specially.


The Decatur Board of Education, District No. 61 (School District), appeals from a decision of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (Board) determining the School District had violated sections 14(a)(1) and 14(a)(5) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 48, pars. 1714(a)(1), (a)(5)), in refusing to bargain over class size. Decatur School District No. 61, 4 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 1076, case No. 86-CA-0042-S (Illinois Labor Relations Board, May 17, 1988).

The School District initially argues the Decatur Education Association, IEA-NEA (Association), waived the issue of class size and the issue of

Section 10(a) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 48, par. 1710(a)) provides the mandatory topics of collective bargaining are wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. Section 4 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 48, par. 1704) denotes, in broad terms, areas under the employer's control, and provides, in relevant part, as follows:

"Employer rights. Employers shall not be required to bargain over matters of inherent managerial policy, which shall include such areas of discretion or policy as the functions of the employer, standards of services, its overall budget, the organizational structure and selection of new employees and direction of employees. Employers, however, shall be required to bargain collectively with regard to policy matters directly affecting wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment as well as the impact thereon upon request by employee representatives."

The words "directly affecting" and "impact" in the second sentence are of importance in this decision. Two members of the Board determined class size directly affected terms and conditions of employment, and one member determined that class size did not have a direct effect but had an impact on terms and conditions of employment. The finding of a "direct" effect ultimately resulted in a determination that class size is a mandatory subject for bargaining. An "impact" finding would have resulted in required bargaining concerning that "impact of class-size determinations on terms and conditions of employment, although the class-size decision itself would have been reserved to the employer.

The Board members all agree that a finding of direct effect, under the second sentence of section 4, did not automatically result in mandatory bargaining. The Board adopted a balancing test whereby, after finding a direct effect exists, the interests of the employees are weighed against the School District's interest in maintaining unencumbered control over the managerial policy. This same balancing test could be used in determining when the impact of a particular policy decision would be subject to bargaining.

We digress in an attempt to clarify what has been said. A liberal interpretation of the words "directly affecting" could include many subjects properly limited to managerial discretion. Almost every policy decision made by a school district could be said to have a direct effect or, at a minimum, an "impact" on conditions of employment. The first sentence of section 4 could, through a liberal interpretation of "directly affecting" and "impact," become meaningless, which would undoubtedly be contrary to legislative intent. The complexity of determining what is "directly affected" is illustrated by the disagreement among the Board members. We recognize this complexity and the necessity of establishing guidelines which assist in giving the statutory provisions meaning.


The Association argues the application of a balancing test is unnecessary in the instant case because classroom size is directly covered by section 10(a), and such a finding should bar the application of section 4. This argument is without merit. Too many factors in school operations overlap, requiring a method for deciding between managerial exclusivity and employee participation through bargaining. Any other decision would ignore the legislative history relating to section 4. The School District also disagrees with the application of the balancing test, but for the opposite reason. The School District argues the facts are similar to those in Berkeley School District No. 87, 2 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 1066, case No. 84 -- CA -- 0057 -- C (Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, May 30, 1986). In Berkeley, the school management determined to change athletic programs from interscholastic to intramural. Hours and wages of coaches were affected, but the majority of the Board found the subject matter was not a working condition under section 10(a). The policy decision was held not to be a working condition and not subject to bargaining. The School District argues the Board should have similarly found class-size decisions not a term or condition of employment under section 10(a). There would, therefore, be no need to resort to a balancing test. Although the main emphasis of the Berkeley holding was about section ...

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