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03/20/97 VILLAGE WINFIELD v. ILLINOIS STATE LABOR

March 20, 1997

THE VILLAGE OF WINFIELD, APPELLANT,
v.
THE ILLINOIS STATE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD ET AL., APPELLEES.



The Honorable Justice Bilandic delivered the opinion of the court:.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bilandic

JUSTICE BILANDIC delivered the opinion of the court:

The Village of Winfield (the Village) appeals from a decision of the appellate court confirming the decision and order of the Illinois State Labor Relations Board (the Board) certifying the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, Winfield Chapter No. 138 (the union), as the duly elected collective-bargaining representative of certain employees of the Village police department. The Village contended that the Board did not have jurisdiction to consider the union's representation petition, pursuant to section 20(b) of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (the Act) (5 ILCS 315/20(b) (West 1992)), because the Village employs fewer than 35 employees. The appellate court held that the Village employed 35 or more employees and was therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the Board. Nos. 2-95-0042, 2-95-0335 cons. (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). We accepted the Village's petition for leave to appeal. 155 Ill. 2d R. 315. We now reverse the decision of the appellate court.

FACTS

On December 6, 1993, the union filed a representation petition with the Board seeking to serve as the exclusive collective-bargaining agent for all full-time sworn patrol officers at or below the rank of sergeant and all records clerks employed by the Village of Winfield. The Village challenged the jurisdiction of the Board, arguing that it was exempt from the Act because it did not employ 35 or more employees, as required by section 20(b) of the Act (5 ILCS 315/20(b) (West 1992)).

The parties stipulated that, if the Village should be found to employ 35 or more employees, the bargaining unit proposed in the petition would be appropriate. A hearing was held before an administrative law judge to determine whether the Village employed 35 employees. The Village conceded that it employed 22 individuals. The union contended that the Village should also be found to be the employer of nine employees of the Winfield Public Library and of six "summer staffers" in the Village public works department. The Village asserted that it was not the employer of the library employees and that the summer staffers could not be counted for section 20(b) purposes because they were "short-term employees," as defined in section 3(q) of the Act (5 ILCS 315/3(q) (West 1992)).

At the hearing, the Village presented the testimony of Village Manager Bryon Vana. Vana is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Village. Vana testified that the Winfield Public Library has its own board of trustees, which is elected by the public. No library trustees are also Village trustees. No library employees are also Village employees. Vana further testified that the library prepares its own budget, which is separate from the Village's budget. The library board provides a copy of its budget to the Village. The library board also passes a resolution requesting a specific tax levy, which is then forwarded to the Village. The Village's tax levy ordinance includes a separate levy request for the library budget. The library pays its employees' salaries, which are an item in the library's budget. As a courtesy, the Village processes payroll checks for the library's employees. The Village provides no benefits to library employees. The Village pays the bill for the library employees' health insurance, but is reimbursed by the library for those payments. The library has its own employment policies and the Village has no involvement in the hiring, firing or discipline of library employees. Vana also testified that the Village does not review or approve library expenditures. The library pays its own bills.

Exhibits were also presented in connection with the hearing. The Village submitted answers to questions propounded by the administrative law judge in which the Village stated that it has the discretion to disapprove the library's appropriation request, subject to court review. The Village also stated that it had never disapproved the library's appropriation request and it had never supplemented the library's budget with a Village appropriation.

The administrative law judge issued a recommended decision and order finding that the Village was a joint employer of the nine library employees and that the summer staffers were not short-term employees and could be counted for section 20(b) purposes. Accordingly, the administrative law judge found that the Village employed a total of 37 employees and was therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the Board. The Board issued an order adopting the recommendation of the administrative law judge and directing a representation election. The Board subsequently entered an order certifying the union as the duly elected collective-bargaining representative of the proposed bargaining unit. The Village appealed directly to the appellate court. 155 Ill. 2d R. 335. The appellate court confirmed the decision of the Board.

ANALYSIS

The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (5 ILCS 315/1 et seq. (West 1992)) provides a comprehensive system of collective bargaining for certain public employers and their employees. Section 20(b) of the Act exempts certain employers from its scope. Section 20(b) provides:

"This Act shall not be applicable to units of local government employing less than 35 employees, except with respect to bargaining units in existence on the effective date of this Act and fire protection districts required by the Fire Protection District Act to appoint a Board of Fire Commissioners." 5 ILCS 315/20(b) (West 1992).

There is no dispute that the Village of Winfield is a unit of local government. Accordingly, if the Village employs fewer than 35 employees, it is exempt from the Labor Relations Act, and the Board has no jurisdiction to consider the Union's petition.

As noted, the Village concedes that it employs 22 individuals. The Village argues that it has no additional employees, and that it is therefore exempt from the Labor Relations Act under section 20(b). The union and the Board (hereinafter referred to jointly as appellees) contend that the Village is also the joint employer of nine employees of the Winfield Public Library, and that the six summer staffers in the Village's public works department should be counted as Village employees. Thus, the appellees argue, the Village employs 37 employees and is not exempt under section 20(b). We note that both of the appellees' contentions must be accepted in order for the ...


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