The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Cook delivered the opinion of the court
Appeal from Circuit Court of Morgan County No. 95MR107 Honorable J. David Bone, Judge Presiding.
This is the second appeal of this case to this court. In our prior opinion, we affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the plaintiffs' application to vacate an arbitration award. Department of Central Management Services v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, 284 Ill. App. 3d 963, 673 N.E.2d 447 (1996). On further review, the Supreme Court of Illinois, without reaching the merits of the case, sua sponte held this court lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal because the circuit court never granted an order confirming the award and never entered judgment in conformity with the award, as sections 12 and 14 of the Uniform Arbitration Act (710 ILCS 5/12, 14 (West 1994)) require. Department of Central Management Services v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, 182 Ill. 2d 234, 239, 695 N.E.2d 444, 446 (1998). On this basis our judgment was vacated and the appeal dismissed.
Defendant then filed a motion to confirm the arbitration award in the trial court for the sole purpose of curing the jurisdictional defect. Following a hearing held by conference call, the trial Judge allowed the motion and confirmed the arbitration award. Plaintiffs filed a second notice of appeal.
Before this court, defendant has now filed a motion to reinstate our prior opinion contending "no issue of law or fact arises on this appeal that was not decided by this Court in the first appeal." Although plaintiffs object to disposing of this appeal without briefing or argument, they do not suggest that additional, substantive matters relating to the underlying merits of the case were placed before the trial court for further review. Indeed, the supporting record, filed with the motion, reveals that the proceedings that took place after the issuance of the supreme court's mandate were for the sole purpose of curing the defect detected by the supreme court that made the trial court's previous order interlocutory and unreviewable. The trial court left undisturbed its previous order denying and dismissing the application to vacate the award on the basis the application to vacate was filed 91 days after the award was received.
Having decided the merits of this case once before, we are not inclined to revisit the same issues we previously reviewed. Accordingly, we grant defendant's motion to reinstate our prior decision, and re-enter the same as an opinion of the court. For the convenience of the reader, we reproduce that decision, in full, below.
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 §§ 12 and 13 of the Uniform Arbitration Act [(Act)] (710 ILCS 5/12 and 5/13 (West 19))." 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 (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 "[t]he 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 "[a]n 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 (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 (1988), quoting Chicago Board of Education v. Chicago Teachers Union, 142 Ill. App. 3d 527, 530, 491 N.E.2d 1259, 1261 (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 (1993). The Hyatte court merely cited Meridian, however, and did not discuss how section 12(e) of the Act and section 8 of the Labor Relations Act were to be reconciled. Hyatte, 239 Ill. App. 3d at 897-98, 607 N.E.2d at 323-24.
In Chicago Transit Authority v. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, 244 Ill. App. 3d 854, 860, 614 N.E.2d 120, 124 (1993), the first district held that greater deference is given arbitration awards under common law standards than is given under the standards of the Act. (We question whether that is true. As Transit Authority concedes, review under the Act is itself very deferential. Transit Authority, 244 Ill. App. 3d at 867, 614 N.E.2d at 128.) Transit Authority went on to conclude that the reason for section 12(e) was to provide for "greater deference to arbitrators, and a lesser role for the courts, in judicial review of arbitration awards under collective[-]bargaining agreements." Transit Authority, 244 Ill. App. 3d at 860, 614 N.E.2d at 124. The first district then considered whether the 1983 enactment of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (see Ill. Rev. Stat., 1984 Supp., ch. 48, par. 1601 et seq.), including section 8, which provided that "[t]he grievance and arbitration provisions of any collectivebargaining agreement shall be subject to" the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 48, par. 1608), affected judicial review. The first district stated that if section 8 did not subject public employee grievance arbitration "to the greater judicial scrutiny available under the [Act], it apparently has no effect." Transit Authority, 244 Ill. App. 3d at 860, 614 N.E.2d at 124.
To avoid this perceived diminishment in the deference given arbitration pursuant to collective-bargaining agreements, the first district concluded that the purpose of section 8 was to clarify the procedural distinction between the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 48, par. 1701 et seq.). Both those acts were enacted at the same time. They differ in that the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act divests courts of jurisdiction to review arbitration awards and grants the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board exclusive jurisdiction over such awards. Transit Authority, 244 Ill. App. 3d at 860-61, 614 N.E.2d at 124. We disagree with Transit Authority on two counts. First of all, while we are uncertain why non-uniform section 12(e) was enacted in the first place, we do not see that heightened judicial review will result from applying the Act to ...