Petition for Review of Order of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. IELRB No. 2001-CA-0023-C
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wolfson
On October 10, 2000, the Special Education District of Lake County Teachers Union, Lake County Federation of Teachers, Local 504, IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO (Union) filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Special Education District of Lake County (SEDOL), alleging SEDOL violated Sections 14(a)(5) and 14(a)(1) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (the Act), 115 ILCS 5/1, et seq. (West 2000), by refusing to bargain over a mandatory subject of bargaining: the wages, hours, and working conditions of teachers serving on Local Professional Development Committees (LPDCs).
After conducting an investigation of the charge, the executive director of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) issued a complaint and notice of hearing on November 6, 2000. On January 22, 2001, both parties appeared at a hearing in Chicago, Illinois.
On May 4, 2001, an administrative law judge (ALJ) of the IELRB issued a Recommended Decision and Order (the ALJ's Order). The ALJ concluded SEDOL had violated Sections 14(a)(5) and 14(a)(1) of the Act by refusing to bargain with the Union about the wages, hours, and working conditions of teachers serving on LPDCs. On August 31, 2001, the IELRB issued an Opinion and Order affirming the ALJ's Order.
On appeal, we are required to determine whether the IELRB's decision that SEDOL violated Section 14(a)(5) and, derivatively, Section 14(a)(1) of the Act by refusing to bargain over the mileage, release time, and stipends of teachers serving on the LPDCs was clearly erroneous. We affirm.
SEDOL is an educational employer as defined in Section 2(a) of the Act (115 ILCS 5/2(a) (West 2000)). The Union is an employee organization as defined in Section 2(c) of the Act (115 ILCS 5/2(c) (West 2000)), and the exclusive representative, as defined in Section 2(d) of the Act (115 ILCS 5/2(d) (West 2000)), of a unit consisting of all certified classroom and itinerant teachers and educators, speech therapists, prevocational coordinators, social workers, educational diagnosticians, nurses, and psychologists employed by SEDOL.
The Certificate Renewal Act -- The Creation of LPDCs
On July 12, 1999, the process by which Illinois teachers were granted renewal of their teaching certificates was amended by Public Act 91-102 ("Certificate Renewal Act"). See 105 ILCS 5/21-14 (West 2000). The Certificate Renewal Act was enacted in an effort to enhance the knowledge, skills, and professionalism of Illinois teachers. 105 ILCS 5/21-14(e) (West 2000).
The Certificate Renewal Act provides that teachers who renew their teaching certificates after February 15, 2000, will be issued a standard certificate valid for only five years. A standard certificate may be renewed for additional five-year periods, but only after teachers create and submit a "certificate renewal plan" that explains how those teachers plan on engaging in professional development and continuing education over the next five years. See 105 ILCS 5/21-14(b), 21-14(e) (West 2000).
The Certificate Renewal Act requires Illinois school districts and their respective collective bargaining representatives to establish "Local Professional Development Committees" to review and approve teachers' certificate renewal plans. Each LPDC must consist of at least three classroom teachers, selected by the collective bargaining representative, and two non-classroom teachers, selected by the school district. See 105 ILCS 5/21-14(f) (West 2000).
The law provides that each school district "shall be paid an annual amount of not less than $1,000 for administrative costs associated with conducting the meetings of the [LPDC]." 105 ILCS 5/21-14(k) (West 2000).
The Illinois State Board of Education ("ISBE") issued proposed rules implementing the Certificate Renewal Act in March, 2000. The ISBE issued final rules, effective on August 14, 2000.
Bargaining over the Certificate Renewal Act
Before the effective date of the ISBE rules, beginning in about September 1999, the Union made several requests that SEDOL bargain over the working conditions of the teacher-members of the LPDC. Initially, SEDOL refused to bargain, pending adoption of the final rules by the ISBE.
On June 1, 2000, the Union filed an unfair labor practice charge against SEDOL, alleging its refusal to bargain constituted a violation of Sections 14(a)(5) and (1) of the Act. On July 5, 2000, the executive director dismissed that charge. See Special Education District of Lake County, Case No. 2000-CA-0071-C, 16 PERI 1070 (Executive Director's Recommended Decision and Order, July 5, 2000).
On October 26, 2000, the IELRB affirmed the dismissal, finding the results of bargaining conducted before the adoption of final rules by the ISBE would be of uncertain validity, and might have to be renegotiated. See Special Education District of Lake County, Case No. 2000-CA-0071- C, 16 PERI 1086 (IELRB Opinion and Order, October 26, 2000). The IELRB concluded SEDOL did not violate the Act because bargaining was not possible before issuance of the ISBE's final rules.
After the final rules became effective, in August and September of 2000, SEDOL and the Union exchanged correspondence about scheduling a meeting to discuss development of the LPDCs. On October 10, 2000, the Union filed a second unfair labor practice charge alleging SEDOL: "[o]n August 24, 2000, and ...