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Pierce v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board

September 23, 2002


Appeal from the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. No. 99 CA 0002-C

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


Petitioner-appellant Stanley Pierce (petitioner) filed charges of unfair labor practices against his employer, respondent-appellee City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College (City Colleges), with respondent-appellee Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (Board). The Board conducted an investigation and issued a complaint. A hearing was held, and at its conclusion, an administrative law judge (ALJ) recommended the dismissal of the complaint due to a lack of supportive evidence. Petitioner filed for review with our court instead of filing exceptions to the ALJ's decision with the Board. Petitioner then filed a motion with the Board for leave to file his exceptions instanter. The Board denied this motion and accordingly issued a final opinion and order adopting the recommended decision of the ALJ. Petitioner appeals pro se, asking that we entertain this appeal on its merits so as to reverse the findings of the Board and award him compensatory and punitive damages, as well as lost benefits. For the reasons stated below, we dismiss this appeal.


The record of the proceedings before the Board indicate the following facts, which are not in dispute.

Petitioner was an adult educator employed by Malcolm X College, one of seven City Colleges of Chicago. He testified that since 1988, he had been teaching literacy at the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC), one of City Colleges' sites for adult education. City Colleges typically monitored the classes of adult educators three times per semester; however, this number could increase if attendance was low or problems were reported. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31, Local 3506 (union), represented City Colleges' adult educators, and a collective bargaining agreement governed the terms and conditions of their employment. Pursuant to this agreement, the maximum number of hours an adult educator could teach was 24 hours per week; petitioner's scheduled teaching hours comprised this maximum.

In December 1997, petitioner was informed that his schedule would be reduced to 16 hours per week. In January 1998, petitioner spoke with his union and a grievance was filed on his behalf, as well as other employees, against City Colleges protesting this reduction. *fn1 In the following months, City Colleges monitored petitioner's classes more frequently, as well as those of Oscar Walden, the only other adult educator teaching similar classes at CCDOC. City Colleges noted that the classes at CCDOC rarely began on time, if at all, and often experienced very low attendance.

Petitioner, Walden, the dean of City Colleges and the coordinator who was monitoring the CCDOC classes exchanged written correspondence and held meetings in an effort to solve these problems. Several new schedules were proposed, and, as a result, petitioner's and Walden's class times were shifted as a means of affording CCDOC students a better start time and, in turn, increasing attendance. Class locations in CCDOC were also changed to provide the students with easier access to petitioner's and Walden's classes. Further monitoring revealed, however, that problems persisted. In addition, City Colleges discovered that placement test scores of those students in petitioner's literacy classes were high, indicating that they should be enrolled in more advanced classes.

For these reasons, City Colleges cancelled the literacy classes at CCDOC and reassigned petitioner and Walden to teach elsewhere. On June 30, 1998, petitioner filed a charge with the Board against City Colleges for unfair labor practices, alleging that City Colleges had harassed him, discriminated against him and cancelled his classes in retaliation for his filing the earlier grievance regarding the reduction in hours. The Board investigated petitioner's charge and issued a complaint based on his assertions.

A hearing was held in June 2000. Petitioner appeared pro se. He, as well as several other witnesses, testified and exhibits were entered into evidence. On November 14, 2000, the ALJ issued her recommended decision and order. In it, she found that the dean of City Colleges had "testified credibly" as to the reasons for the cancellation of petitioner's classes. Moreover, she found that petitioner failed to satisfy his burden of establishing a prima facie case of employer interference, restraint or coercion under section 14(a)(1) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Act) (115 ILCS 5/14(a)(1) (West 1998)), because he could not show that City Colleges' cancellation of his classes was motivated by his filing the grievance regarding reduction in hours. The ALJ concluded that based on the evidence, there was no support for petitioner's claim of anti-union animus or that any of City Colleges' actions would have been different had he not filed the work-hour grievance. After dismissing the complaint, the ALJ included the following language in her recommended decision:

"Right to Appeal

Pursuant to 80 Ill. Adm. Code 1105.220(b) and (d), the parties may file exceptions to this Recommended Decision and Order and briefs in support of those exceptions no later than twenty-one (21) days after receipt of this Recommended Decision and Order. If no exceptions are filed within the 21-day period, the parties will be deemed to have waived their exceptions, and unless the [Board] decides on its own motion to review this matter, this Recommended Decision and Order will become final and binding on the parties."

The record shows that petitioner received a copy of the ALJ's decision via certified mail on November 16, 2000.

On December 6, 2000, petitioner filed with this court a document that he designated as his "petition for review," and that we accepted as his ...

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