Petition for Direct Review from the Illinois Local Labor Relations Board. No. LCB98004
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Hourihane
nunc pro tunc March 31, 1999
Petitioner Violar Murry appeals from a decision and order of respondent Illinois Local Labor Relations Board which dismissed her charge of unfair labor practice against respondent American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 1111. On appeal, petitioner contends that (1) respondent Board misinterpreted certain qualifying provisions of section 10(b)(1) of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Act)(5 ILCS 315/10(B)(1)(West 1996)) in determining that no issue of fact or law existed sufficient to entitle her to a hearing in connection with her charge and (2) the dismissal of her aforementioned charge was in error.
For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
In July 1997, petitioner filed a charge of unfair labor practice against respondent union, asserting that the latter failed to properly represent her during a January 1997 grievance hearing in violation of section 10(b)(1) of the Act. Within her charge, petitioner alleged that she was employed by Cook County Hospital as a clerk, and that, in November 1996, she was transferred from her position in the oncology department. Petitioner understood the transfer to be temporary. However, she later learned it was permanent, and that a less experienced individual was to assume her former position. Petitioner complained to her employer, charging a violation of their collective bargaining agreement.
Petitioner further alleged that, during a January 1997 grievance hearing on that charge, her union representatives "took a condescending stance" toward her and "argued with her about the filing of her grievance." Petitioner also complained that the hearing was neither fair nor impartial, and that it descended into "a forum for false accusations against [her] ***." Specifically, petitioner averred that Bettina Helm-Thornell informed the hearing officer that she had filed a police report, in October 1996, regarding a threat petitioner purportedly made to Beulah Brent, another hospital employee. However, Brent, who was also present at the hearing, flatly denied any such event.
Petitioner further alleged that although she was eventually offered her former position in oncology, she was also warned she would be subject to discipline upon her return.
An investigation of the aforementioned charge, as required by section 11 of the Act (5 ILCS 315/11 (West 1996)), ensued. That investigation culminated in an order of dismissal from Brian E. Reynolds, executive director of respondent Board. As a part of that order, Reynolds chronicled the facts discovered during the investigation. According to Reynolds, petitioner had worked in the hospital for over two-and-a-half years, during which time she had become friends with Brent. Reynolds noted petitioner alleged that Brent was promoted to the position of administrator within the oncology department in 1996, and that Brent subsequently promised her a promotion, within a year, if she transferred from oncology to pediatrics. Petitioner did so in August 1996, but soon became convinced Brent had lied to her regarding the promotion.
Petitioner complained the following September, requesting her return to oncology.
In October, a representative of respondent union reported to the hospital that petitioner had threatened Brent. An investigation and report followed. That report, as Reynolds explained, found that the "personal relationship" between petitioner and Brent ended at the time Brent was promoted to the position of administrator, that no promise of promotion was made to petitioner, and that the transfer complained of by petitioner was routine "cross-training and rotation of all clinical area staff." According to Reynolds, the report also "expressed uneasiness" about petitioner working under Brent should she return to oncology.
The next month, petitioner filed a grievance concerning her transfer to pediatrics. A hearing followed on January 30, 1997.
At that hearing, petitioner stated that she no longer desired to return to oncology and, in fact, withdrew her objection to her transfer. The grievance was accordingly dismissed by the hearing officer as moot.
Reynolds then determined that the aforementioned evidence and allegations did not establish an issue of fact or law sufficient to entitle petitioner to a hearing on her charge. In so finding, Reynolds relied upon a Seventh Circuit precedent, Hoffman v. Lonza, Inc., 658 F. 2d 519 (7th Cir. 1981). Therein, the court of appeals held that, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)(29 U.S.C. §151 et seq. (1988)), a union cannot be said to have breached its duty of fair representation unless its actions are shown to ...