Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 93-CH-556. Honorable William D. Block, Judge, Presiding.
Colwell, Quetsch, PECCARELLI
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colwell
JUSTICE COLWELL delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 900 (Union), commenced this action to compel arbitration of a grievance with Suburban Bus Division of the Regional Transportation Authority (Pace). The circuit court of Lake County entered an order compelling arbitration and denying motions for sanctions filed by both parties. Pace appeals from the order compelling arbitration and the Union cross-appeals from the court's order denying its request for sanctions. We affirm.
Pace is a suburban bus company which provides public mass transit services pursuant to the Regional Transportation Authority Act (70 ILCS 3615/3A.01 et seq.) The Union represents a bargaining unit at Pace which is comprised of bus operators, shop employees, and some office clerks. The relationship between Pace and the Union is subject to a collective bargaining agreement (Agreement) which establishes the terms and conditions of employment for Union members at the Pace North Division facility. Article 4 of the Agreement provides a three-step grievance procedure culminating in arbitration:
"All grievances of employees covered by this Agreement relating to discipline, discharge, rate of pay, hours of labor or working conditions shall be adjusted in the following manner:
1. The grievance must be submitted in writing to the Superintendent of Operations or his representative and the Union or the Maintenance Director or his representative within ten (10) calendar days of occurrence. * * * The Superintendent of Operations or the Maintenance Director will reply to the Union in writing within ten (10) calendar days of receipt.
2. If the Union is not satisfied with the answer of Pace in Step 1 above within five (5) working days after receipt of Pace's reply, the Union may submit the grievance to the Division Manager in writing for the Division Manager's review and determination. The Division Manager or his designee must respond to the Union within five (5) working days after receipt of the Union's request.
3. In the event the parties do not settle the grievance in Step 2 either party may submit the grievance to arbitration within thirty (30) calendar days of the Division manager's decision."
The grievance at issue here concerns whether a certain Pace employee, Kathleen Sheehan, performs work reserved to the Union under the Agreement and therefore must pay Union dues. This dispute arose in 1992 when Sheehan was assigned duties that Pace considered to be beyond the scope of work reserved to the Union under the Agreement. Sheehan stopped paying Union dues in October 1992.
Robert Bloch, attorney for the Union, sent a correspondence regarding Sheehan to Joseph Stevens, Pace's attorney, in September 1992. Stevens sent Bloch a letter dated January 5, 1993, stating that Sheehan occupied a non-Union position. Bloch filed a grievance on behalf of the Union on January 6, 1993, which he stated was a response to the January 5 letter from Stevens. The grievance requested that Pace either: (1) cease assigning Sheehan to bargaining unit duties, (2) return Sheehan to the bargaining unit and notify her of same, or (3) discharge Sheehan for the nonpayment of dues as required under article 1 of the Agreement. Bloch forwarded this grievance to Stevens and it was received by him on or about January 14, 1993.
Stevens responded in a letter dated January 22, 1993, that the grievance failed to comply with the grievance process specified in the Agreement in that the grievance should have been submitted to the superintendent of operations of the Pace north division. Stevens stated that he had never consented to accept service on behalf of Pace and that the grievance was untimely. In a letter dated January 27, 1993, Bloch responded that the grievance was properly served on Stevens as a "representative" of the superintendent of operations as provided in the Agreement. Bloch requested in that letter that the grievance be processed to the second step of the grievance procedure. Bloch stated that he recognized that Pace had preserved its contentions as to service and timeliness for presentation to an arbitrator.
In a letter dated February 2, 1993, Stevens reiterated that the Union had failed to proceed in a manner consistent with the Agreement. Stevens also stated that Bloch's January 27 letter did not comply with step 2 of the grievance procedure since it was not submitted to the Division Manager. Bloch responded in a letter dated February 23, 1993, in which he purported to comply with step 3 of the grievance procedure by submitting the grievance to arbitration. Stevens responded the next day by refusing the arbitration demand and restating that the Union had failed to comply with the Agreement's grievance process and time limits.
The Union brought this action under section 2 of the Uniform Arbitration Act (710 ILCS 5/2 (West 1992)), seeking an order compelling arbitration of the grievance at issue. Pace denied the material allegations of the Union's complaint. Pace filed a motion for summary judgment supported by affidavits from the division manager at Pace North and Stevens. Pace argued that the Union had failed to comply with steps 1 and 2 of the grievance process contained in the Agreement. The Union did not file any controverting ...