Petition for review of an order of the Illinois State Labor Relations Board No. S-RC-98-29
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Breslin
Petitioner Chief Judge of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit (Chief Judge) appeals from a decision of the Illinois State Labor Relations Board (Labor Relations Board or Board) which found that the probation officers of the Chief Judge's circuit are covered by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Labor Relations Act or Act) (5 ILCS 315/1 et seq. (West 1998)). Subsequently, the Board directed the election of a bargaining unit composed of the probation officers. On appeal, the Chief Judge argues that the Board violated the separation of powers doctrine by exercising jurisdiction over him and the probation officers or, alternatively, that the probation officers are excluded from the Act because they are managerial employees. We disagree and affirm. In so doing, we hold that the supreme court cannot be construed as a joint employer of the probation officers of the Chief Judge's circuit and that the probation officers do not meet the Act's definition of managerial employees.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (AFSCME), filed a representation/ certification petition with the Labor Relations Board seeking to represent a unit consisting of approximately 130 probation officers employed by the Department of Probation and Court Services in the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit (Probation Department). Subsequently, an eight-day hearing was held before the Board's administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ made extensive factual findings, the vast majority of which are not in dispute. A brief summary of the relevant evidence presented at the hearing is as follows.
The Illinois Supreme Court's Division of Probation Services (Probation Services) is statutorily charged with the development and enforcement of uniform probation services throughout the state. See 730 ILCS 110/15 (West 1998). Probation Services is part of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC), the administrative body of the supreme court.
The probation officers' terms and conditions of employment are established by the Chief Judge, by Du Page County and by Probation Services. The decision to appoint and remove probation officers is completely within the discretion of the Chief Judge. See 730 ILCS 110/13, 15 (West 1998). The Chief Judge, however, can hire only applicants who have satisfied job requirements established by the AOIC. See 730 ILCS 110/15(2)(b) (West 1998). Further, the AOIC requires that the probation officers be covered by a pay plan which is implemented on the circuit level by the Probation Department. The Probation Department in this case is organized into five divisions: adult, adults special services, juvenile, juvenile detention and administrative support. A probation officer's duties vary with respect to which division he or she is assigned. The general duties of probation officer are detailed in the Probation and Probation Officers Act (Probation Act) (730 ILCS 110/0.01 et seq. (West 1998)).
Under the Probation Act, Illinois probation officers have the following responsibilities: (1) to investigate the case of any person placed on probation; (2) to notify the court in writing of any previous convictions; (3) to make written reports and notifications; (4) to make and keep records concerning probationers; (5) to develop and operate programs of reasonable community service for persons ordered by the court to perform community service; (6) to report to probation officers in other counties with respect to probationers who remove from one county to another; (7) to authorize travel permits to individuals under their supervision; and (8) to perform other duties as provided in the Probation Act or by rules of court. See 730 ILCS 110/12 (West 1998).
Following the hearing, the ALJ issued a recommended decision and order finding that, for the purposes of the Act, (1) the supreme court was not an employer of the probation officers; (2) the Chief Judge was the sole employer of the probation officers; (3) the Board had jurisdiction over the Chief Judge; and (4) the probation officers were not managerial employees as a matter either of law or fact. The Chief Judge filed exceptions to the ALJ's recommended order and concurrently filed a petition for a writ of prohibition and a motion to stay the proceedings before the Board with the supreme court. The supreme court denied these motions. Subsequently, the Board affirmed the decision of the ALJ and directed the secret ballot election of a unit representative. AFSCME won the election and the Chief Judge now appeals.
Additional facts relevant to this appeal will be introduced as they become necessary to our analysis.
Separation of powers is implicit in the organizational structure of the State's government and the division of power among its three branches. Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts v. State & Municipal Teamsters, Chauffeurs & Helpers Union, Local 726, 167 Ill. 2d 180, 657 N.E.2d 972 (1995). The doctrine finds voice in article II of the Illinois Constitution, which states that the "legislative, executive and judicial branches are separate" and that no "branch shall exercise powers properly belonging to another." Ill. Const. 1970, art. II § 1. Although the branches need not be kept so separate and distinct as to have no connection or dependence, the "whole power of two or more of these departments shall not be lodged in the same hands, whether of one or many." Field v. People ex rel. McClernand, 3 Ill. (2 Scam.) 79, 83-84 (1839).
The Chief Judge argues that application of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act to the probation officers violates the doctrine of separation of powers. We cannot agree. We base our position mainly upon the supreme court's decision in County of Kane v. Carlson, 116 Ill. 2d 186, 507 N.E.2d 482 (1987).
Similar to this case, in Kane County the supreme court was faced with the question of whether chief judges, as public employers of probation officers, could constitutionally be made subject to the Act. The court answered this question in the affirmative, relying in part upon the fact that final orders of the Labor Relations Board in cases involving unfair labor practices are reviewable in the appellate court. Kane County, 116 Ill. 2d at 209, 507 N.E.2d at 490-91. The court reasoned that judicial control over labor issues involving probation officers would thus be available as a check on intrusions into those matters reserved to the judicial branch. Kane County, 116 Ill. 2d at 209, 507 N.E.2d at 491.
In addition, the court reasoned that the administrative and supervisory powers vested in the courts are not so broad that every detail affecting personnel must be reserved exclusively to the judicial branch. Kane County, 116 Ill. 2d at 208, 507 N.E.2d at 491. To a great extent, the three branches of government must be regarded as interdependent and "some blurring of their roles is not only inevitable but also necessary to their smooth functioning." Kane County, 116 Ill. 2d at 208, 507 N.E.2d at 491. Put another way, the three branches are " 'parts of a single operating government, and *** the separation of powers clause was not designed to achieve a complete divorce between them.' " Kane County, 116 Ill. 2d at 208, 507 N.E.2d at 491, quoting People v. Reiner, 6 Ill. 2d 337, 342 (1955). Thus, the ...