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

September 29, 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.



PETITION FOR REVIEW FROM THE ILLINOIS EDUCATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD No. 98 CA 0032 C

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cousins

This action resulted from the termination of Sandra Gordon (Gordon), a tenured teacher who became a "reserve teacher" after the school in which she worked closed in 1991. Gordon was "honorably terminated" in August of 1995. The Chicago Teacher's Union (the Union) filed a grievance against the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees (the CSRBT) alleging that Gordon's termination violated both Article 42- 3 of the Agreement between the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the Chicago Teachers Union (the Agreement) and section 7 of the Policy Regarding Reassignment and Layoff of Regularly Certified and Appointed Teachers Due to Changes in Staffing Needs (the Policy). The grievance was denied by the CSRBT. Subsequently, the Union filed an appeal with the CSRBT, which was denied. The Union then filed a demand for arbitration. The arbitrator ordered Gordon's reinstatement. The CSRBT refused to comply with the award and therefore the Union filed an unfair labor practice against the CSRBT. The administrative law judge held that Gordon's layoff pertained to prohibited subjects of bargaining and that the CSRBT did not engage in unfair labor practices by refusing to comply. The Union challenged the administrative law judge's decision before the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (the Board). The Board held that the arbitrator's award enforcing the Policy is binding and that the CSRBT violated section 14(a)(8) and, derivatively, section 14(a)(1) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (the Act). (115 ILCS 5/14(a)(1), (a)(8) (West 1996)).

We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Sandra Gordon, a certified, tenured teacher of over 30 years with the Chicago Board of Education, taught at Irving Park Elementary School for six years until the school closed in June of 1991. Since she had been appointed to her position at Irving Park Elementary and was tenured, she was given the stature of a "reserve teacher" after the school closed. Thereafter, she was assigned to work at a number of different schools on an interim basis.

Article 42, section 3 of the Agreement, which went into effect on August 14, 1995, establishes a policy applicable to reserve teachers. Article 42-3 provides that a reserve teacher is any regularly appointed teacher "whose service is no longer required in a particular school because of a decrease in membership or a change in subject requirements within the school organization." Article 42-3 of the Agreement further requires placement in a permanent position for any reserve teacher who served in an interim position for more than 60 days. A reserve teacher was to be "honorably terminated from service" if no permanent appointment was made after 25 school months.

Gordon received a termination letter dated August 30, 1995, which stated:

"According to the personnel records of the Chicago Public Schools, you have been serving the school district as a reserve teacher during the last two years. The 1993-1995 Board/Union Agreement under which you serve specifies (in Article 42, "Transfer Policy and Procedures") that teachers who have been in a reserve teacher status for more than 25-school months without being appointed to a permanent position shall be honorably terminated from service. Therefore, please be advised that you are no longer an employee of the Chicago Public Schools. Your medical and dental coverage will continue through August 31, 1995."

In October of 1995, the Union filed a grievance on behalf of Gordon alleging that her termination violated both Article 42-3 of the Agreement and section 7 of the Policy. Article 42-3 provides: "Any such reserve teacher whose most recent efficiency rating is satisfactory or better shall be permanently appointed to the position after having served in it on an interim basis for 60 days." Section 7 of the Policy provides: "If the teacher remains in the interim position for more than 60 days, he or she shall be permanently assigned to the position." The Union's grievance was denied by the CSRBT's acting director of labor and employee relations, Jacqueline A. Baker (Baker), on the ground that Gordon had not filled "a teaching position within her area of certification for 60 or more school days." Pursuant to the appeal procedures set forth in Article 3-3 of the Agreement, representatives of the CSRBT and the Union met in joint conference in November of 1995 to review Baker's decision. The CSRBT upheld Baker's decision. In December of 1995, the Union filed a demand for arbitration under the Agreement.

The issues raised at the arbitration hearings included whether the grievance was arbitrable under the Act and whether the CSRBT properly applied its reassignment and layoff policy when it failed to place Gordon in a permanent teaching position. The arbitrator concluded that Gordon qualified for permanent reassignment under section 7 and section 10 of the Policy since she had been assigned to Lowell Elementary school from November 1991 to June 1992, a period exceeding 60 consecutive days. As noted earlier, section 7 of the Policy provides that, "if the teacher remains in the interim position for more than 60 days, he or she shall be permanently assigned to the position." Section 10 of the Policy provides:

"If a removed teacher's appointment to a vacancy would not be consistent with the Plan to Implement Provisions of Title VI [sic] of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the appointment will not be made unless there is no teacher who holds the appropriate certification available to be appointed consistent with the Plan."

The arbitrator stated:

"Since there is conclusive evidence that the Board unilaterally adopted the Reassignment Policy following the 1995 Amendatory Act, that it did so knowingly and voluntarily, and that it applied this policy to the grievance in every step and procedure leading up to this arbitration, I deny the Board's Motion to Dismiss the grievance on grounds of arbitrability. My ruling is expressly limited to the instant facts, and in no way impairs the Board's right to exercise its statutory rights under the 1995 Amendatory Act."

In June of 1997, the arbitrator ordered reinstatement of Gordon "with back pay and all other benefits lost, less earnings and benefits that the Grievant made during the period of breach."

The CSRBT refused to comply with the award. The Union then filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Board. The issue before the administrative law judge (ALJ) was whether the CSRBT violated section 14(a)(8) and, derivatively, section 14(a)(1) of the Act by refusing to comply with the provisions of a binding award. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, sections 14(a)(8) and 14(a)(1), provides:

"(a) Educational employers, their agents or representatives are prohibited from:

(1) Interfering, restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed under this Act.* * * (8) Refusing to comply with the provisions of a binding arbitration award." 115 ILCS 5/14(a)(1), (a)(8) (West 1996).

The ALJ decided that Article 42-3 of the Agreement and the CSRBT Policy are in conflict with sections 4.5(a)(3), 4.5(a)(4), and 4.5(b) of the Act. 115 ILCS 5/4.5(a)(3), (a)(4), (b) (West 1998). ...


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