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July 17, 1995


Appeal from an Order of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. No. 92-CA-0078-C.

The Honorable Justice Buckley delivered the opinion of the court: Wolfson and Braden, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buckley

JUSTICE BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court:

The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (the University) appeals the order of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (the Board) which found that pursuant to Board regulations, the University did not have "good cause" to answer the Board's complaint three days late. On appeal the University argues: (1) the complaint was not properly served; (2) the Board erred in concluding that the University did not show "good cause" for filing its answer three days late; (3) the Board's application of "good cause" is arbitrary and unreasonable; and (4) the Board erred in awarding relief without a hearing.

The facts in this case are undisputed. On June 29, 1992, the University Police Association (the Union) filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Board against the University. The Union alleged that on or about January 1, 1992, the University began to make deductions from employees' paychecks for the cost of health insurance premiums without prior notice to the Union and without affording the Union the opportunity to negotiate and bargain. The Union also claimed that the University engaged in discriminatory practices in order to discourage membership in an employee organization. The Union further alleged that the University failed and refused to bargain collectively and that it had been engaging in unfair labor practices within the meaning of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (the Act) (115 ILCS 5/1 et seq. (West 1992)). After an investigation, the Board's executive director issued a complaint on December 17, 1992, naming the Union as the complainant and the University as the respondent.

The complaint was sent by certified mail and received by counsel for the University on December 21, 1992. On that same date, a copy of the complaint was sent by first class mail to: "University of Illinois at Chicago, 2388 University Hall Box 4348, Chicago, Illinois 60608." Section 1120.30(d) of the Board's regulations requires that an answer be filed no later than 15 days after service of a complaint. (80 Ill. Adm. Code ยง 1120.30(d) (1994).) However, the University filed itsanswer to the complaint on January 8, 1993, or 18 days after the University's attorney was served with the complaint. On January 11, 1993, the Union filed a "Motion for Entry of Order that Allegations of Complaint be Deemed Admitted," which is the equivalent to a motion for a default judgment. On January 12, 1993, the Board issued an order requesting the University to show cause to support a denial of the Union's motion. In response, the University explained that its attorney had misrecorded the date the complaint had been served as December 24, 1992, and this caused the University to file its answer three days late. The hearing officer concluded that the University did not have "good cause" to file a late answer and on April 27, 1993, issued a "Recommended Decision and Order" granting the Union's motion. On September 23, 1993, the Board affirmed the hearing officer's decision and this appeal followed.


The University's first contention is that the complaint was not properly served "upon the party complained of," as required by the Act. The issue is whether the Board's regulation, providing for service on a party's representative, is valid. The complaint was sent by certified mail to the attorney who appeared for the University during the Board's precomplaint investigation of the Union's unfair labor practice charge. The University maintains that the Board's regulation, which provides for service on the party's representative, conflicts with the plain language of the Act.

The statute creating an administrative agency defines the authority of the agency to adopt rules and regulations and the agency cannot extend or alter the operation of the statute by its regulations. ( Gunia v. Cook County Sheriff's Merit Board (1991), 211 Ill. App. 3d 761, 769, 570 N.E.2d 653, 658, 156 Ill. Dec. 177.) Therefore, a rule or regulation which conflicts with the statute is invalid. ( Gunia, 211 Ill. App. 3d at 769, 570 N.E.2d at 658.) The party challenging the validity of a regulation bears the burden of proving its invalidity. ( Begg v. Board of Fire & Police Commissioners (1984), 99 Ill. 2d 324, 331-32, 459 N.E.2d 925, 928, 76 Ill. Dec. 790.) An administrative regulation carries the same presumption of validity as a statute, and so long as the regulation furthers the purpose of the statute and is not arbitrary, unreasonable or capricious, it will be sustained. Coronet Insurance Co. v. Washburn (1990), 201 Ill. App. 3d 633, 637, 558 N.E.2d 1307, 1310, 146 Ill. Dec. 973; Kankakeeland Community Action Program, Inc. v. Department of Commerce & Community Affairs (1990), 197 Ill. App. 3d 1067, 1074, 557 N.E.2d 277, 281, 145 Ill. Dec. 507.

The purpose of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act is"to promote orderly and constructive relationships between all educational employees and their employers." (115 ILCS 5/1 (West 1992).) The legislature has determined that the best way to accomplish this policy is to, among other things, establish "procedures to provide for the protection of the rights of the educational employee, the educational employer and the public." 115 ILCS 5/1 (West 1992).

Section 15 of the Act states in pertinent part:

"A charge of unfair labor practice may be filed with the Board by an employer, an individual or a labor organization. If the Board after investigation finds that the charge states an issue of law or fact, it shall issue and cause to be served upon the party complained of a complaint which fully states the charges ***." (Emphasis added.) (115 ILCS 5/15 (West 1993).)

Section 5(g) of the Act provides: "The Board may promulgate rules and regulations which allow parties in proceedings before the Board to be represented by counsel or any other person knowledgeable in the matters under consideration." (115 ILCS 5/5(g) (West 1993).) Finally, section 1100.20 of the Board's regulations provides in relevant part:

"c) The Board will serve petitions, intervening claims and unfair labor practice charges on the appropriate parties by either personal service, registered or certified mail, or by leaving a copy at the principle office or place of business of the person required to be served.

d) All documents, except those listed in subsection (c), above, will be served on the appropriate parties by the party propounding the document, either by the methods listed in subsection (c), or by first class mail, or overnight delivery service. When a party is represented in a proceeding before the Board, service shall be on the ...

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