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Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board

July 20, 2000

CHICAGO SCHOOL REFORM BOARD OF TRUSTEES, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
V.
ILLINOIS EDUCATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, AND THE CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION, LOCAL 1, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, AFL-CIO, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hall

Petition for Review From Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

No. 98 CA 0015C

This action is brought by the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees (the CSRBT) on a petition for administrative review of an opinion and order entered by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (the Board). The respondent, Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1, AFT-IFT, AFL-CIO (the Union), filed an unfair labor practice charge against the CSRBT, before the Board, alleging that the CSRBT violated sections 14(a)(5) and, derivatively, 14(a)(1) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (the Act)(115 ILCS 5/14(a)(5) and 5/14(a)(1) (West 1996)), by refusing to bargain collectively in good faith by refusing to provide the Union with certain requested information. On April 23, 1999, the Board ruled that the CSRBT had violated those sections of the Act and ordered, inter alia, that the CSRBT furnish the Union with the requested information. The CSRBT filed their timely petition for review with this court on May 28, 1999. See 115 ILCS 5/16(a)(West 1996). For the reasons that follow, we affirm. The following facts are relevant to this appeal:

I. BACKGROUND

During the summer of 1997, the CSRBT reconstituted seven Chicago high schools. Reconstitution is one of several options available to the CSRBT, pursuant to statute, for schools that have been previously placed on probation but have failed to correct deficiencies after a maximum of one year. 105 ILCS 5/34-8.3 (West 1996). The reconstituted schools were: DuSable, Englewood, Harper, King, Orr, Phillips, and Robeson. The effect of the reconstitution was that all employees of the schools, including teachers and principals, were displaced and required to interview with the CSRBT for reassignment to the positions they held prior to the reconstitution.

Gail Koffman, Assistant to the President of Field Services for the Chicago Teachers Union, testified for the Union. Koffman testified that the interviews were conducted by interview teams. Following the interviews the teachers were notified as to whether they were selected for reassignment. The Union requested a list of all teachers who were not retained at their prior high schools. Koffman testified that 188 out of approximately 700 teachers were not reassigned to the positions they held prior to the reconstitution. Six out of eleven union delegates were not retained. The teachers who were not retained were offered no explanation for their displacement, even though many had received "superior" or "excellent" performance evaluations throughout their tenures. Pursuant to the CSRBT's reassignment and layoff policy, those teachers who were not retained remained employees of the CSRBT for 10 months, during which time they were required to actively seek a position elsewhere within the Chicago Public Schools. Any teacher who did not acquire another position within this period was laid off and given an honorable termination from service. Koffman admitted that all 188 teachers remained employed by the CSRBT following the reconstitution and that as of the date of the hearing not one teacher had been laid off.

According to Koffman, the Union received complaints from its members regarding the manner in which the interviews were conducted. Several members felt that they were not retained due to their union activities or age or race discrimination and requested that the Union file grievances on their behalf. The Union wanted to investigate these charges. Consequently, on August 15, 1997, Thomas Reece, President of the Union, tendered a written request for certain information to the CSRBT, in accordance with the provisions of Article 1-7*fn1 of the 1995-99 collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The following information was requested: (1) the names of the members of the interview teams who conducted the interviews at each of the seven reconstituted high schools and the criteria by which each of the team members were selected; (2) the instructions given to the members of the interview teams; (3) the questions that were asked of the classroom and non-classroom teachers and career service members of the CTU bargaining unit; (4) the criteria for appointing or not appointing teachers and career service members of the CTU bargaining unit; and (5) copies of all reports the interview teams submitted to the CSRBT. Koffman testified that all of the requested information was needed to explore the legitimacy of the complaints that teachers were not retained based upon age, race and union activity or membership. The requested information was deemed vital by the Union for assessing whether members had grievable discrimination claims based upon the reconstitution interview process.

Receiving no response to its request for information, the Union proceeded to file grievances on behalf of three members. Each of the grievances contended that the CSRBT had violated one or more of the non-discrimination provisions of the CBA. The first grievance was filed on August 21, 1997, on behalf of Union delegate Stuart Switt. The grievance alleged that the CSRBT violated the terms of the CBA by not retaining Switt at Robeson High School because of his Union activities. A second grievance was filed on September 3, 1997, on behalf of Patricia Michaels. The grievance alleged that the CSRBT refused to retain her at Orr High School, despite her 27 years of "superior" performance evaluations, because of her Union affiliation and activities. A third grievance was filed on September 5, 1997, on behalf of Jay Freeman, a teacher who was not retained at Englewood High School. It alleged that the interview process lacked any objective criteria and was demeaning and discriminatory.

On September 4, 1997, Timothy D. Brandhust, the Director of the Bureau of Labor and Employee Relations for the Chicago Public Schools, refused to supply the requested information on the basis that "[t]he Union is not entitled to the requested information under [Article 1-7 of the CBA]."

The Union filed this unfair labor practice charge on September 3, 1997, contending that by refusing to provide the requested information, the CSRBT violated sections 14(a)(5) and, derivatively, 14(a)(1) of the Act (115 ILCS 5/14(a)(5) & 5/14(a)(1) (West 1996)). On December 1, 1997, the Board issued a complaint and notice of hearing on the Union's unfair labor practice charge. The complaint alleged: (1) that the requested information is necessary for and relevant to the Union's performance of its function as the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the teachers; (2) that the CSRBT failed to supply the requested information; and (3) that by so refusing, the CSRBT has failed to bargain collectively in good faith with the Union thereby engaging in an unfair labor practice within the meaning of sections 14(a)(5) and 14(a)(1) of the Act. The CSRBT filed an answer denying that the requested information was necessary for, and relevant to, the Union's performance of its function as the exclusive bargaining representative. The CSRBT also asserted as an affirmative defense that the requested information pertained to prohibited subjects of bargaining, as specified in section 4.5(a)(3) and (4) of the Act. 115 ILCS 5/4.5(a)(3)(4) (West 1996).

The matter was heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ) on March 27, 1998. During the hearing the Union maintained that the requested information concerned the wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment and, therefore, was relevant for the performance of its contract administration duties as the exclusive bargaining agent. The information was relevant to the Union's ability to make an informed decision as to whether the claims of discrimination it received were meritorious and a proper basis for filing a grievance. The CSRBT maintained that the requested information was to be used to assist the Union in the prosecution of grievances challenging staffing decisions. Since such decisions are prohibited subjects of bargaining, the requested information was not necessary for or relevant to the Union's performance of its function as the exclusive bargaining agent. According to the CSRBT, the allegations relating to violations of the anti-discrimination provisions of the CBA were simply a tool to circumvent the prohibitions of bargaining set out in section 4.5 of the Act.

On June 24, 1998, the ALJ issued a recommended decision and order finding that because of the displacement and potential termination of the teachers as a result of the reconstitution process, the information requested by the Union concerned terms and conditions of employment. Thus, the requested information was presumptively relevant to the Union's duties of contract administration. The ALJ further found that nothing in the Illinois School Code or the Act rendered the anti-discrimination clauses of the CBA invalid. Therefore, the ALJ found that by refusing to supply the requested information, the CSRBT violated sections 14(a)(5), and derivatively 14(a)(1) of the Act. He ordered, inter alia, that the CSRBT furnish the Union with the requested information.

The CSRBT filed exceptions to the ALJ's recommended order and decision. In a split decision, the Board adopted the ALJ's recommended order and decision in an opinion and order issued on April 23, 1999. Two members of the Board voted to affirm the ALJ, while two voted to reverse.*fn2 On appeal, the CSRBT contends that the Board erred in finding that the CSRBT violated section 14(a)(5) and ...


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