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November 22, 1996


Appeal from Circuit Court of Morgan County. No. 95MR107. Honorable J. David Bone, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication November 22, 1996. As Corrected January 3, 1997.

Honorable Robert W. Cook, P.j., Honorable John T. McCullough, J. - Concur, Honorable Rita B. Garman, J. - Concur. Presiding Justice Cook delivered the opinion of the court.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cook

PRESIDING JUSTICE COOK delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiffs Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) and Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (Department) appeal the circuit court's dismissal on timeliness grounds of their application to vacate an arbitration award. We affirm.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (union) filed a grievance on behalf of Bill McGownd for his June 6, 1994, discharge by the Department from his position as a mental health technician II. The Department discharged him for one incident of "using abusive, threatening or profane language towards recipients or staff," and another incident in which he allegedly physically and verbally abused a blind patient at the residential treatment facility for mentally retarded citizens where he worked. The arbitrator sustained the grievance because of the Department's failure to abide by the "prompt discipline" provisions of the collective-bargaining agreement. It found no justification for delays of five months and eight months in the Department's investigations of the respective charges, and accordingly ordered McGownd reinstated and made whole for his losses. The award issued on April 3, 1995, and the Department received it on April 6.

Plaintiffs filed an application to vacate the award on July 6, 91 days later, alleging the award was against public policy and the arbitrator exceeded his authority. That application stated it was "brought pursuant to ยงยง 12 and 13 of the Uniform Arbitration Act [(Act)] (710 ILCS 5/12 and 5/13 (West 19[94]))." The union moved to dismiss the application as untimely under the 90-day time limit imposed by section 12(b) of the Act. 710 ILCS 5/12(b) (West 1994). Plaintiffs then asserted that the Act did not apply or at least that the time limits of the Act did not apply. The motion was granted, and plaintiffs filed this appeal.

The sole issue before us is the propriety of the dismissal of plaintiffs' petition to vacate. The parties agree the petition was filed 91 days after the Department received the award. Accordingly, the only dispute concerns interpretation and application of the relevant statutes. This is a question of law, on which we need not defer to the conclusions reached by the circuit court. See Fitzpatrick v. Human Rights Comm'n, 267 Ill. App. 3d 386, 392, 642 N.E.2d 486, 491, 204 Ill. Dec. 785 (1994).

There are several relevant provisions. Since this case concerns an award entered under a collective-bargaining agreement with noneducational public employees, it is governed by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Labor Relations Act) (5 ILCS 315/1 et seq. (West 1994)). Section 8 of the Labor Relations Act provides "the grievance and arbitration provisions of any collective[-]bargaining agreement shall be subject to the [Act]." 5 ILCS 315/8 (West 1994). Section 12(b) of the Act provides "an application under this Section shall be made within 90 days after delivery of a copy of the award to the applicant," unless the award was procured by "undue means" (710 ILCS 5/12(b) (West 1994)), which is not alleged in this case. Section 12(e) of the Act then provides:

"Nothing in this Section or any other Section of this Act shall apply to the vacating, modifying, or correcting of any award entered as a result of an arbitration agreement which is a part of or pursuant to a collective[-]bargaining agreement [(the first clause)]; and the grounds for vacating, modifying, or correcting such an award shall be those which existed prior to the enactment of this Act [(the second clause)]." 710 ILCS 5/12(e) (West 1994).

Finally, section 13-205 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) provides there is a five-year limitations period on "actions *** on awards of arbitration." 735 ILCS 5/13-205 (West 1994).

In Board of Education of Meridian Community Unit School District 101 v. Meridian Education Ass'n, 112 Ill. App. 3d 558, 445 N.E.2d 864, 68 Ill. Dec. 220 (1983), the fifth district considered the interplay of sections 12(b) and (e) of the Act. It held that in actions to modify, vacate or correct awards under collective-bargaining agreements, the first clause of section 12(e) of the Act overrode the jurisdictional time limits of section 12(b) of the Act. Meridian, 112 Ill. App. 3d at 562, 445 N.E.2d at 867. Significantly, it based this result solely on the presumption that the wording of a statute is not surplusage. Meridian, 112 Ill. App. 3d at 562, 445 N.E.2d at 867.

Meridian did not, of course, consider section 8 of the Labor Relations Act, which specifically provided the Act would apply, because Meridian was decided in 1983 and the Labor Relations Act did not become law until 1984. See Pub. Act 83-1012, eff. July 1, 1984 (1983 Ill. Laws 6830, 6859). The Labor Relations Act, together with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Educational Act) (115 ILCS 5/1 et seq. (West 1994)), constitutes an "attempt to provide 'a comprehensive regulatory scheme for public sector [collective] bargaining in Illinois.'" Board of Education of Community School District No. 1, Coles County v. Compton, 123 Ill. 2d 216, 221, 526 N.E.2d 149, 152, 122 Ill. Dec. 9 (1988), quoting Chicago Board of Education v. Chicago Teachers Union, 142 Ill. App. 3d 527, 530, 491 N.E.2d 1259, 1261, 96 Ill. Dec. 799 (1986). Compton observed section 8 of the Labor Relations Act "explicitly provides for enforcement of arbitration awards in accordance with the [Act]." Compton, 123 Ill. 2d at 221-22, 526 N.E.2d at 152.

In 1993, however, the second district followed Meridian and held section 12(e) of the Act eliminated the time limits of section 12(b) of the Act in actions to vacate Labor Relations Act awards, section 8 of the Labor Relations Act notwithstanding. Hyatte v. Quinn, 239 Ill. App. 3d 893, 897-98, 607 N.E.2d 321, 323-24, 180 Ill. Dec. 427 (1993). The Hyatte court merely cited Meridian, however, and did not discuss how section 12(e) of the Act and ...

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