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City of Collinsville v. State Labor Relations Board

April 09, 2002

THE CITY OF COLLINSVILLE, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
THE ILLINOIS STATE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD AND INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS, LOCAL 520, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Illinois State Labor Relations Board. No. S-CA-99-056

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

Released for publication April 11, 2002.

THE CITY OF COLLINSVILLE, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
THE ILLINOIS STATE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD AND INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS, LOCAL 520, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.

Appeal from the Illinois State Labor Relations Board. No. S-CA-99-056

Attorney for Appellant: Steven C. Giacoletto, Giacoletto & Johnston, 1601 Vandalia Street, Collinsville, IL 62234. Attorneys for Appellees: James E. Ryan, Attorney General State of Illinois, Joel D. Bertocchi, Solicitor General, Michael P. Doyle, Assistant Attorney General, 100 West Randolph Street, 12th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601 (for The Illinois State Labor Relations Board). Bruce S. Feldacker, Feldacker & Durbin, P.C., 230 S. Bemiston Avenue, Suite 1200, Clayton, MO 63105 (for International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 520).

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

 PUBLISHED

The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 520 (Union), the charging party, filed a charge with the Illinois State Labor Relations Board, now known as the Illinois Labor Relations Board (Board) (5 ILCS 315/5.1 (West 2000)), alleging that the City of Collinsville (City), the respondent to the charge, refused to abide by section 3.4 of the parties' collective bargaining agreement (Agreement). The Union alleged that the City's refusal to abide by section 3.4 of the Agreement was an unfair labor practice that is proscribed by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Act) (5 ILCS 315/1 et seq. (West 1998)). An administrative law judge conducted a hearing and issued a recommended decision that the City had violated sections 10(a)(1) and 10(a)(4) of the Act (5 ILCS 315/10(a)(1), (a)(4) (West 1998)) by refusing to bargain with the Union and by unilaterally repudiating section 3.4 of the Agreement. The administrative law judge failed to address the issue raised in count II of the complaint-whether the City had violated the Act by refusing to comply with section 3.4 of the Agreement. The City filed an exception to the administrative law judge's decision. The Union filed exceptions, due to the fact that the administrative law judge failed to include a specific finding that the City had violated section 3.4 of the Agreement. Subsequent to oral argument, the Board entered an order on June 9, 2000, affirming the administrative law judge's determination that the City had violated section 10(a)(4) of the Act and further finding that the City had violated the Act by breaching section 3.4 of the Agreement. The Board also determined that the Agreement was a valid and binding contract. The City filed a timely petition for administrative review.

The relevant facts are as follows. The City is a non-home-rule municipality. In 1967, the City's voters approved a referendum adopting article 10, division 1, of the Illinois Municipal Code (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1965, ch. 24, par. 10-1-1 et seq. (now see 65 ILCS 5/10-1-1 et seq. (West 2000))). The Union and the City have had a long-term collective bargaining relationship, dating back to the early seventies. Since 1973, the Union has represented the bargaining unit of the City's public works employees in the sewer, street, and water departments. Since 1980, the parties' Agreement has included a provision that allows existing employees to transfer into vacant bargaining unit positions. This provision was included in section 3.4 of the Agreement and states as follows:

"When a job vacancy occurs within the Bargaining Unit, that same job classification shall be posted for bid for five (5) working days. In the event a unit employee or employees sign the bid list, the job shall be awarded to the highest senior Union employee[,] provided he shall have the skill and ability to do the work, after 60 days. It is understood that only one vacancy need be filled by the bidding procedure. Any subsequent vacancies shall be filled by the Employer from the list of available candidates furnished by the Civil Service Commission. A successful bidder shall be on probation for 60 days in the new position, during which time he may be transferred back to his former position by the Employer or voluntarily elect to return to his former position. An employee can successfully bid a vacancy twice during the term of the contract. Any time during the sixty days['] probation period[] the senior Union employee turns down the job or is sent back for just cause to his old position by the Employer, the next senior Union employee on the original bid list will have the opportunity to bid for the job. Should the next senior employee not work out for any reason, the Employer may select the third Union employee from the bid list or go to the Civil Service Commission to fill the position. Should the people at the top of the bid list not accept the open position, the process starts with the first person accepting the position. Any opening created by the bidding procedure does not need to be bid."

This provision was included in the parties' Agreement that expired on April 30, 1998.

In March 1998, the parties commenced negotiations for a successor contract. After several bargaining sessions, the Union made a proposal. In July 1998, the City approved the Union's proposal. On August 24, 1998, the Collinsville city council executed ordinance number 2884 approving the Agreement between the City and the Union for the period May 1, 1998, through April 30, 2002. The ordinance stated that the City's mayor and clerk were authorized to sign the Agreement between the City and the Union. According to the City's former manager, Thomas Christie, this ordinance represented "the official culmination of the Union contract." We note parenthetically that section 3.4 of the Agreement was unchanged from section 3.4 of the parties' previous Agreement that expired on April 30, 1998. On August 26, 1998, the City forwarded three originals of the contract to the Union.

Upon receipt of the Agreement, the Union's representatives reviewed it to ensure that it was consistent with the parties' agreement. During the review, the Union made four changes to the language in the parties' Agreement. The proposed revisions were as follows:

1. In section 3.4 (job vacancies), the Union proposed replacing the word "shall" with the word "may" in the following sentence: "Any subsequent vacancies shall be filled by the Employer from the list of available candidates forwarded by the Civil Service Commission." (Emphasis added.)

2. In section 3.51 (assignments), the Union proposed adding the phrase "per calendar year" to the end of the provision that provides that the director has the discretion to move employees within job descriptions for either training or emergencies on a temporary basis "limited to a maximum of six months."

3. In section 7.1 (clothing allowance), the Union proposed substituting the word "director" for "employer" regarding who shall determine procedures for the clothing allowance.

4. The Union proposed deleting either section 4.4.1 (overtime) or section 4.4.5 (overtime pyramiding) in order to resolve a Union-perceived conflict between the provisions.

After making the foregoing changes, the Union representatives went to Christie's office. Since Christie was not there, they left the contract with his administrative assistant. She told them that the city council would have to approve the changes since it had already ratified the tentative contract.

On September 23, 1998, Christie wrote a letter to the Union informing it as follows: "The City *** cannot accept the additional changes to the contract that the City Council recently approved. All changes in wording were agreed with at the last negotiating session." On October 2, 1998, Christie sent another letter to the Union's business manager because he had no response from his September 23, 1998, letter. Christie's letter stated as follows:

"Hearing no response from you to my letter of 9/23/98, the City *** hereby regards *** [the Union's] suggested changes as a counter[]offer and rejection of the ...


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