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Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council v. Illinios Local Labor Relations Board

February 28, 2001


Petition for Review of Order of the Illinois Local Labor Relations Board ILLRB No. L-RC-99-027

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wolfson

The heretofore undecided question in this case is whether the Illinois Public Labor Act permits three separate unions to jointly represent a single group of City of Chicago public safety employees. The Illinois Local Labor Relations Board said the answer is yes. We affirm.


On April 2, 1999, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council (Petitioner) filed a Representation/Certification Petition with the Illinois Local Labor Relations Board (ILLRB). The Petitioner sought a representation election among a group of employees employed by the City of Chicago (Employer). The employees were included in a larger bargaining unit of the Employer's "public safety" unit, known as Unit II.

Unit II was and is jointly represented by three labor organizations: (1) Public Service Employees Union, Local 46, SEIU, AFL-CIO (PSEU), (2) Chicago Crossing Guard Association, Local 729, SEIU (CCGA), and (3) International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 165/21 (IBEW) (collectively the Incumbents). The Petitioner sought an election only among those employees within Unit II represented by PSEU, and did not want to include employees serviced by CCGA or IBEW.

On June 23, 1999, Employer, later joined by PSEU and CCGA, moved to dismiss the petition, arguing the ILLRB had determined in earlier decisions that Unit II was a single unit and that it was an appropriate collective bargaining unit. The petitioner responded that it would present evidence showing Unit II has become three separate bargaining units since ILLRB's last decision.

The ALJ conducted evidentiary hearings and on October 5, 1999, the ALJ found the petitioned-for unit was inappropriate because the employees whom petitioner sought already were included in Unit II. The ALJ concluded Unit II was an appropriate bargaining unit and was properly represented by the Incumbents as a joint representative. The ALJ did not dismiss the petition, but instead directed a representation election in Unit II among all the members.

On April 7, 2000, the ILLRB affirmed the ALJ's finding that the petitioned-for unit was inappropriate, that Unit II was an appropriate unit for the purposes of collective bargaining, and that the Incumbents jointly represent the single bargaining unit.

On appeal, the petitioner contends the ILLRB erred in finding (1) Unit II is an appropriate unit, in which the employees are represented by a single bargaining unit composed of the Incumbents, as opposed to the Incumbents representing the employees of Unit II as three separate and distinct bargaining units; and, (2) the ALJ correctly refused to allow an election among only a portion of the existing bargaining unit, for the purpose of permitting the petitioner to replace PSEU.


In 1984, before the effective date of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, 5 ILCS 315/1, et seq. (West 1998) (the IPLRA), the Employer divided its unrepresented labor force into five bargaining units, based on the "community of interests" within each unit. One of the units became known as Unit II.

In 1984, Unit II included 15 titles: Police Dispatcher Aid, Security Guard, Security Guard - CATC, Senior Security Guard, Coordinator Fire Safety/Handicapped, Animal Control Aid, Senior Public Safety Aid, Community Service Aid, District Coordinator Beat Program, Crossing Guards, Animal Control Officer, Animal Control Inspector, Parking Enforcement Aid, Traffic Control Aid, and Detention Aid.

The titles of Police Communication Operator I, Police Communication Operator II, Aviation Security Officer, and Aviation Communications Operator were added to the unit over the past 15 years. They are full-time employees.

Unit II now consists of 2,164 public safety employees who share the following characteristics: they are non-sworn, quasi-law enforcement personnel who wear uniforms, enforce various Employer ordinances, and are subject to civil suits for their actions.

After Unit II's creation, the Incumbents filed a petition with the Employer seeking to jointly represent Unit II. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) also petitioned to represent Unit II. In June 1984, the American Arbitration Association conducted an election, giving Unit II members a choice of representation by the coalition of incumbents or AFSCME. The Unit II members voted for the coalition of incumbents as their bargaining representative. At the time of the election, none of the Incumbents was tied to any particular group of employees within Unit II.

The record contains no information indicating how each Incumbent became the designated representative of the particular Unit II classifications. However, the recognition clause of the first collective bargaining agreement, which survives in each successor agreement, links the Incumbents with certain employee classifications within Unit II:

1.The Chicago Crossing Guard Association, Local 729, SEIU, AFL-CIO: The CCGA represents Unit II employees in the classification of Crossing Guards. The Employer employs 1,131 Crossing Guards, which are the majority of the 2,164 members of Unit II. Crossing Guards work between two to three-and-a-half hours a day during the school months, and are reassigned during the summer months to other jobs within the Chicago Police Department.

2.Public Service Employees Union, Local 46, SEIU, AFL-CIO: The PSEU represents Unit II employees in the classifications of Community Service Aide, District Coordinator Beat Program, Animal Control Officer, Animal Control Officer Aide, Animal Control Inspector, Aviation Security Officers, Security Guard - CATC, Security Guard, Senior Security Guard, Parking Enforcement Aide, Coordinator Fire Safety/Handicapped, Traffic Control Aide, Senior Public Safety Aide, and Detention Aides. PSEU represents only 656 of 2,164 employees in Unit II.

The Employer employs 24 Animal Control Officers; 3 Animal Control Inspectors; 189 Aviation Security Officers; 194 Detention Aids; 69 Parking Enforcement Aids; and, 177 Traffic Control Aids. There are no employees currently employed in the titles of Animal Control Aid, Community Service Aid, District Coordinator Beat Program, or Senior Public Safety Aid.

3.International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 165/21, AFL-CIO: The IBEW represents Unit II employees in the classifications of Police Communication Operator I (PCOI), Police Communication Operator II (PCOII), and Aviation Communications Operator (ACO). The Employer employs 139 PCOIs, 200 PCOIIs, and 38 ACOs. The IBEW represents a total of 377 of 2,164 employees in Unit II.

These classifications, still in the current contract, except for changes in the job titles, were proposed to serve as a shield for the unions from liability for breaches of the duty of fair representation by one union against one or more of its members.

During initial contract negotiations with the Employer in 1985, the Incumbents retained a single attorney to act as their chief spokesperson. One or more representatives of each Incumbent served on the negotiating committee and participated in the negotiations. Throughout the negotiations, the parties always assembled as a group, and the Employer never held separate negotiations with any of the unions. The Incumbents always submitted joint proposals to the Employer in one package. The Employer would thereafter respond with its proposals, also arranged in one package.

As the parties reached tentative agreements, the chief spokesperson, as well as representatives of all three unions, signed them. The first contract was a single collective bargaining agreement covering all Unit II employees. Each Incumbent conducted a separate ratification vote of the employees it represented in Unit II; the votes were then commingled to determine whether a majority of all Unit II members had ratified the agreement. When it was determined that a majority of all the employees in Unit II had ratified, this single collective bargaining agreement was sent to the Employer's City Council for ratification. On February 13, 1986, a single collective bargaining agreement was entered into by the Employer and Unit II.

In negotiations for successor agreements, the Employer and the Incumbents continued to adhere to these negotiation and ratification procedures. During subsequent negotiations, the Incumbents' chief spokesperson convened meetings where representatives of the Incumbents discussed and agreed upon their joint proposals in an effort to create a unified bargaining agenda.

The initial and successor collective bargaining agreements contain clauses regarding each of the Incumbent's particular members. The preamble of the initial agreement exists in each successor agreement and provides that the Incumbents are "three autonomous and independent labor organizations each representing certain employees in a portion of a single collective bargaining unit ***."

The recognition clause survived as well, and provides that the Employer recognizes each Incumbent as "the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for those employees and/or employee classifications set out opposite the [Incumbent's] respective name" and "that each of the [Incumbents] is autonomous and is responsible solely to represent employees in the classifications enumerated."

The agreements establish wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment applicable to all Unit II members. However, under the agreements, the Incumbents also separately administer the dues collection and grievance procedure provisions. Each Incumbent has a set amount for its monthly dues separate and distinct from that of the other Incumbents. The Employer collects the dues from the employees each individual Incumbent represents and remits the amounts to that Incumbent.

Furthermore, under the grievance procedure, each Incumbent files and pursues its own grievances to arbitration, and arbitration decisions usually refer to the parties as the Incumbent which processed the grievance and the Employer. Finally, where unfair labor practices have arisen under these ...

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