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County of St. Clair v. Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council

May 2, 2003

THE COUNTY OF ST. CLAIR AND THE SHERIFF OF ST. CLAIR COUNTY, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
ILLINOIS FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE LABOR COUNCIL, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 00-MR-276 Honorable Stephen R. Rice, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Goldenhersh

PUBLISHED

The plaintiffs, St. Clair County and the St. Clair County sheriff, appeal an order of the circuit court of St. Clair County denying the plaintiffs' petition to vacate an arbitration award. The arbitration award, entered as a part of a collective bargaining process under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Act) (5 ILCS 315/1 et seq. (West 2000)), states that peace officers employed by the plaintiffs have the right to determine whether overtime is paid in cash or in compensatory time. On appeal, the plaintiffs raise the following issues: (1) whether the arbitration award should be vacated as lacking authority and violating public policy because the issue involves inherent managerial policy not subject to mandatory arbitration and (2) whether the arbitration award was sufficiently based upon the requisite factors. We affirm.

FACTS

The defendant, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, and the plaintiffs are parties to a collective bargaining agreement in which the defendant represents all sworn police officers below the rank of sergeant employed by the plaintiffs. During negotiations of the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, the parties were unable to resolve several issues. The parties then submitted their dispute to interest arbitration in accordance with section 14 of the Act (5 ILCS 315/14 (West 2000)).

Several issues were presented to the arbitrator, including whether the plaintiffs or the officers would determine whether overtime is paid in cash or in compensatory time. The plaintiffs contend that they objected to this issue being presented to the arbitrator, by stating that the undisputed past practice had been that the plaintiffs retained the authority to designate whether compensatory time or cash payments would be given and that the matter was, therefore, a managerial issue subject only to permissive negotiation. The matter proceeded to arbitration on May 22, 2000, and on September 20, 2000, the arbitrator issued an award ruling that the officers would have the right to determine whether overtime is paid in cash or in compensatory time.

On December 18, 2000, in the circuit court of St. Clair County, the plaintiffs filed a petition to vacate the arbitration award. On October 12, 2001, the circuit court entered a judgment denying the plaintiffs' petition to vacate. The defendant filed a motion to reconsider on the issue of interest, which the court subsequently granted. The plaintiffs appeal.

ANALYSIS

As an initial matter, we address the defendant's argument that the circuit court did not have authority to review the issue of whether this was a mandatory or permissive subject of bargaining. The defendant contends that the Act divests the circuit court of authority or jurisdiction to consider whether the overtime-compensation issue was a matter of permissive or mandatory bargaining. See 5 ILCS 315/11(e) (West 2000) (the judicial review of a final order of the Illinois Labor Relations Board "shall be afforded directly in the appellate court for the district in which the aggrieved party resides or transacts business"); see Board of Education, Benton Consolidated School District No. 47, Franklin County v. Benton Federation of Teachers, Local No. 1956, IFT-AFT, 165 Ill. App. 3d 514, 521, 518 N.E.2d 1257, 1262 (1988). The defendant contends that the Illinois Administrative Code establishes a procedure for obtaining declaratory rulings on such issues from the Illinois Labor Relations Board (Board). 80 Ill. Adm. Code §1200.140(b) (2000). Although in argument before the circuit court the defendant did point out the procedure for a declaratory judgment, there is no indication that the defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiffs' petition, and the circuit court did not state a finding on the matter. At oral argument on appeal, the plaintiffs' counsel argued that the avenue for a declaratory ruling by the Board was merely optional and that, at the most, a ruling in the defendant's favor on this topic would result in a remand of the case to the Board. Even if we were to accept the defendant's argument that the circuit court had no jurisdiction to review the arbitrator's decision, this court would still have jurisdiction. The defendant's argument is that the circuit court would have had no authority to vacate the award and that the proper procedure would have been the exhaustion of remedies before the Board prior to direct review by the appellate court.

The acceptance of the defendant's position would allow us to dismiss the plaintiffs' appeal for the failure to follow the proper procedure, but it does not deprive this court of its ability to review orders of an administrative agency. See 155 Ill. 2d R. 335; 5 ILCS 315/11(e) (West 2000). Because the plaintiffs did not pursue any other review by the administrative agency, they may not now complain that the decision of the arbitrator was not final. The arbitrator's decision and the circuit court order affirming the arbitrator are substantially similar in their result. Because we rule for the defendant, we need not address whether the trial court would have had the power to vacate the arbitration award.

The issue of whether the plaintiffs or their peace officers have the right to determine whether overtime is paid in cash or in compensatory time is subject to mandatory arbitration. The plaintiffs contend that this subject is a matter of inherent managerial policy.

The Act defines management rights:

"§4. Management Rights. Employers shall not be required to bargain over matters of inherent managerial policy, which shall include such areas of discretion or policy as the functions of the employer, standards of services, its overall budget, the organizational structure and selection of new employees, examination techniques[,] and direction of employees. Employers, however, shall be required to bargain collectively with regard to policy matters directly affecting wages, hours[,] and terms and conditions of employment[,] as well as the impact thereon[,] upon request by employee representatives." 5 ILCS 315/4 (West 2000).

The Illinois Supreme Court established a three-prong test for determining whether an issue is a mandatory subject of collective bargaining, in the case of Central City Education Ass'n, IEA/NEA v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, 149 Ill. 2d 496, 523, 599 N.E.2d 892, 905 (1992). The first prong of the test calls for a determination of whether the issue is one of wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment. Central City Education Ass'n, IEA/NEA, 149 Ill. 2d at 523, 599 N.E.2d at 905. If the issue passes the first prong of the test, the second prong is to consider whether the issue also is one of inherent managerial authority. Central City Education Ass'n, IEA/NEA, 149 Ill. 2d at 523, 599 N.E.2d at 905. If the answer to the second question is no, the analysis ends because the matter would be subject to mandatory bargaining. If the answers to the questions in the first two prongs are yes, this creates a hybrid situation that calls for the weighing of the benefits that bargaining will have on the decision-making process ...


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