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Adams County Sheriff Nall v. The International Association of Machinists

September 30, 1999

ADAMS COUNTY SHERIFF ROBERT NALL AND THE ADAMS COUNTY SHERIFF'S MERIT COMMISSION, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
V.
THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, AFL-CIO, LOCAL LODGE 822, DISTRICT 123, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Appeal from Circuit Court of Adams County No. 97MR116

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Knecht

Honorable Michael R. Roseberry, Judge Presiding.

In November 1997, plaintiffs, Adams County Sheriff Robert Nall and the Adams County Sheriff's Merit Commission (Commission), filed a declaratory judgment action alleging Sheriff Nall was under no obligation to bargain with defendant, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, Local Lodge 822, District 123 (Union), regarding the Commission's disciplinary and promotional procedures. The circuit court granted defendant's motion to dismiss (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 1996)). Plaintiffs appeal, arguing they could not bargain over this issue because the legislature mandated Adams County adopt and implement specific procedures governing employee discipline and promotions. We agree and reverse.

I. BACKGROUND

Adams County originally created the Commission in 1969 pursuant to either the County Police Department Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 125, par. 101 et seq.(repealed by Pub. Act 81-1475, §19, eff. January 1, 1981 (1980 Ill. Laws 1651, 1658))), or section 58.1 of "An Act to revise the law in relation to counties" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 34, par. 859.1 (Merit System for Deputy Sheriffs) (repealed by Pub. Act 81-1475, §19, eff. January 1, 1981 (1980 Ill. Laws 1651, 1658))). In 1974, Sheriff Nall became Adams County's sheriff.

In January 1996, the Union became the exclusive bargaining representative for all full-time sworn patrol officers, deputy sheriffs, corrections officers, and employees assigned to the "SWAP" program of the sheriff's office. In November 1997, plaintiffs filed a declaratory judgment action asking the court to find Sheriff Nall could not bargain over the disciplinary and promotional procedures.

Plaintiffs' complaint alleged that in March 1996 Sheriff Nall and the Union engaged in negotiations for a collective-bargaining agreement. During these negotiations, the Union sought to include provisions allowing for arbitration of disciplinary and promotional issues. However, Sheriff Nall refused to bargain over this issue because section 3-8002 (55 ILCS 5/3-8002 (West 1996)) of the Sheriff's Merit System Law (Merit Law) (55 ILCS 5/3-8001 through 3-8018 (West 1996)), a division of the Counties Code (55 ILCS 5/1-1001 et seq. (West 1996)), required Adams County to adopt the disciplinary and promotional procedures established therein. Section 3-8002 provides, in pertinent part:

"The county board of every county having a county police department merit board established under 'The County Police Department Act' *** or a merit commission for sheriff's personnel established under Section 58.1 of 'An Act to revise the law in relation to counties' *** shall adopt and implement the merit system provided by this Division and shall modify the merit system *** to comply with this Division." (Emphasis added.) 55 ILCS 5/3-8002 (West 1996).

Thereafter, the parties reached a collective-bargaining agreement but did not include procedures governing discipline and promotions. Plaintiffs attached a copy of the agreement to the complaint. Plaintiffs also filed an affidavit from the clerk of Adams County indicating Adams County was not a home rule unit of government (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VII, §6). The Union moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to section 2-615(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615(a) (West 1996)) for failure to state a cause of action. The court granted the Union's motion. This appeal followed.

II. ANALYSIS

On appeal, plaintiffs assert section 3-8002 of the Merit Law mandated Adams County adopt the disciplinary and promotional procedures set forth by the legislature (55 ILCS 5/3-8013, 3-8014 (West 1996)). They contend Adams County could not amend or alter the Merit Law's provisions because it is not a home rule unit of government. Accordingly, they argue Sheriff Nall could not bargain over these issues. See City of Decatur v. American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees, Local 268, 122 Ill. 2d 353, 365-66, 522 N.E.2d 1219, 1224-25 (1988).

The Union responds the Merit Law does not state its procedures governing employee discipline and promotions are the exclusive means for reviewing employee-related issues. See Board of Governors of State Colleges & Universities v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, 170 Ill. App. 3d 463, 475, 524 N.E.2d 758, 764 (1988) (hereinafter BOG) (holding that the fact "a statute does not address alternative methods to contest discharges does not imply *** the provisions set forth in the statute to be the employee's exclusive option"). Further, the Union contends public policy favors arbitration in settling employment disputes. See Forest Preserve District v. Illinois Local Labor Relations Board, 190 Ill. App. 3d 283, 291, 546 N.E.2d 675, 680 (1989) (refusing to hold the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Labor Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 48, pars. 1601 through 1627) predominates over civil service rules only when the civil service statute is optional). Thus, the Union argues Sheriff Nall should have bargained over these issues. Dismissal on the pleadings is proper when plaintiffs cannot prove facts entitling them to recovery. Illinois Graphics Co. v. Nickum, 159 Ill. 2d 469, 488, 639 N.E.2d 1282, 1291 (1994). In ruling on a section 2-615 motion to dismiss, the court accepts as true the complaint's well-pleaded facts and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom. Kolegas v. Heftel Broadcasting Corp., 154 Ill. 2d 1, 8-9, 607 N.E.2d 201, 205 (1992). The ruling on motion to dismiss is reviewed de novo. Sherman v. Kraft General Foods, Inc., 272 Ill. App. 3d 833, 835-36, 651 N.E.2d 708, 710 (1995).

The duty to bargain collectively is found in section 7 of the Labor Act (5 ILCS 315/7 (West 1996)), which states in pertinent part:

"The duty 'to bargain collectively' shall also include an obligation to negotiate over any matter with respect to wages, hours[,] and other conditions of employment, not specifically provided for in any other law or not specifically in violation of the provisions of any law. If any other law pertains, in part, to a matter affecting the wages, hours[,] and other conditions of employment, such other law shall not be construed as limiting the duty 'to bargain collectively' and to enter into ...


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