Administrative Review of the Illinois Local Labor Relations Board, No. L-CA-91-045.
Released for Publication September 27, 1994.
DiVito, Hartman, Scariano
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Divito
Presiding Justice DiVito delivered the opinion of the court:
General Service Employees Union, Local 73, SEIU, AFL-CIO (the Union), filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Illinois Local Labor Relations Board (the Board), alleging that Cook County (the County) had committed an unfair labor practice in refusing to supply a document related to a matter being grieved through the provisions of the parties' collective bargaining agreement. The Union sought the report prepared by the public safety department of the Oak Forest Hospital (the Hospital) regarding the discharge of a nursing assistant for allegedly stealing money from a patient. The County refused to provide the document, alleging that it was confidential. At the subsequent administrative hearing, the hearing officer issued a recommended decision and order finding that the County had committed an unfair labor practice in failing to supply the report to the Union. The Board adopted the hearing officer's recommendation with modifications, and ordered the County to provide the report to the Union. The County petitioned for judicial review of the Board's order, and this court granted the petition. For reasons that follow, we affirm.
Carolyn Stith was employed by Oak Forest Hospital as a patient care attendant from June 18, 1979, until her discharge on August 22, 1990. Her discharge resulted from an allegation that she stole $40 from the gown of a female patient on July 29, 1990. The Hospital's Public Safety Department investigated the alleged theft.
On August 14, 1990, "a pre-disciplinary meeting" was held at the Hospital concerning the theft allegation. A public safety officer, employed by the Public Safety Department, testified that the patient identified Stith as having taken money from her person. The Hospital discharged Stith for cause effective August 22, 1990. She appealed her discharge through the third step of the grievance process of the collective bargaining agreement, at the termination of which, on November 19, 1990, the appeal was denied.
While Stith was employed at the Hospital, she was a member of a local of the Union that represented employees at the Hospital. At the third step hearing, the Union's business representative, Pia Davis, who represented Stith, requested a copy of the Public Safety Report (PSR) that related to the theft allegations against Stith. Davis made a written request for the PSR the next day. In the past, Davis had used PSR's to uncover information that might not otherwise be revealed during disciplinary hearings, and she had used them to cross-examine witnesses. PSR's had also helped her to decide whether to proceed to arbitration of a grievance. She had not disseminated the reports she had received.
The Hospital refused to give Davis the PSR, because it allegedly contained confidential information and the Hospital was afraid that unauthorized dissemination might result in liability or witness intimidation. The Hospital had unilaterally decided not to provide PSR's to the Union on April 19, 1990, but had not notified the Union of this change in its policies.
The Union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Board on November 29, 1990, claiming that the Hospital's failure to supply it with the PSR interfered with its ability to represent Stith. The Board issued a complaint on April 11, 1991.
The Union decided to request arbitration of the Stith grievance, as was its right under the collective bargaining agreement. The Hospital was informed of this decision in a letter to the chief administrative officer on December 7, 1990. The parties selected an arbitrator, but on May 29, 1991, the Union requested that the arbitration hearing be continued pending the outcome of the unfair labor practice proceeding. The County objected, but the arbitrator granted the continuance. The arbitration hearing will be resumed only at the completion of this case.
The hearing on the unfair labor practice complaint was held on July 22 and 24, 1991. Davis was called to testify by the Union; and James Lail, Associate Hospital Administrator, and James Brodie, Director of Public Safety at the Hospital, were called by the County.
The hearing officer issued a recommended decision and order finding that the County had committed an unfair labor practice. The hearing officer noted the duties of the parties to a collective bargaining agreement to share relevant information with one another concerning the processing of grievances. The hearing officer determined that the PSR was relevant to the grievance proceeding, stating:
"it could assist [the Union] in deciding whether to pursue the grievance, and in deciding the manner in which to defend Stith. Under the discovery standard, the Stith report would probably include potentially ...