Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 01 CH 1363 Honorable Lester D. Foreman, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'brien
Plaintiff, the City of Calumet City (the City), appeals the order of the circuit court affirming an arbitral award in favor of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council (the Union). The City contends that the arbitration panel's award was arbitrary and capricious and in excess of its authority. The Union cross-appeals the order of the circuit court staying the enforcement of the arbitral award pending appeal. We affirm the arbitral award and lift the stay.
The Union is a labor organization that serves as the exclusive bargaining representative of all peace officers in the City. The City is a home rule municipality in Cook County with a population under 1 million. In the course of collective bargaining between the Union and the City over the terms of the 1999-2002 collective bargaining agreement, the parties reached an impasse with regard to 17 issues. The Union then filed a demand for interest arbitration pursuant to section 14 of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (the Act)(5 ILCS 315/14 (West 2000)). The arbitration panel ruled in favor of the Union on 12 of the issues and the circuit court affirmed.
The City filed this appeal contesting 3 of the 12 issues decided in favor of the Union by the arbitration panel. Specifically, the City appeals the arbitration panel's ruling: (1) lifting the residency requirement and providing that the Union's police officers may reside within a 20-mile radius outside the City; (2) providing the officers with the option of grievance arbitration for any disciplinary action in excess of five days; and (3) providing that the officers may use their official uniforms, indicia and equipment while engaged in secondary employment with a private commercial employer.
The Union argues that the City's petition for review of the arbitral award was not timely filed in the circuit court and, thus, that the appeal should be dismissed. Section 14(k) of the Act (5 ILCS 315/14(k)(West 1998)) provides that petitions for review must be filed with the circuit court within 90 days after the arbitration panel issues its award. The term "issue" means "to publish, put forth, circulate and to give out publicly or officially." County of Peoria v. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, 167 Ill. App. 3d 247, 249 (1988), citing Webster's Second College Dictionary (1972 ed.).
Here, the arbitration panel consisted of a neutral chairman, a City delegate, and a Union delegate. The neutral chairman signed the arbitration award on October 12, 2000, the City delegate signed the award on October 31, 2000, and the Union delegate signed the award on November 8, 2000. Thus, the earliest date that the award could have been published, put forth, circulated, or given out publicly or officially (i.e., issued) by the entire arbitration panel was November 8, 2000, the date by which all three panel members signed the award. The City filed its petition for review in the circuit court on January 25, 2001, within 90 days of November 8, 2000. Accordingly, the City's petition was timely filed.
Next, the City argues that the arbitration panel deprived the City of its due process rights by failing to follow the mandatory procedural provisions of section 14(g) of the Act. The Union responds that the provisions of section 14(g) are not mandatory.
The interpretation of a statute is a question of law subject to de novo review. Poullette v. Silverstein, 328 Ill. App. 3d 791, 794 (2002). The fundamental principle of statutory construction is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the legislature. Poullette, 328 Ill. App. 3d at 794. The language of the statute is the most reliable indicator of legislative intent. Poulette, 328 Ill. App. 3d at 794.
Section 14(g) of the Act provides in relevant part:
"At or before the conclusion of the hearing *** the arbitration panel shall identify the economic issues in dispute, and direct each of the parties to submit, within such time limit as the panel shall prescribe, to the arbitration panel and to each other its last offer of settlement on each economic issue." (Emphasis added.) 5 ILCS 315/14 (g) (West 2000).
By employing the word "shall," the legislature expressed its clear intent to impose a mandatory obligation on the arbitration panel to identify the economic issues in dispute and facilitate the exchange of final settlement offers at or before the conclusion of the hearing. See People v. O'Brien, 197 Ill. 2d 88, 93 (2001)(holding that the use of the word "shall" in a statute is a clear expression of legislative intent to impose a mandatory obligation).
The City contends that the arbitration panel violated the mandatory provisions of section 14(g) by failing to identify the economic issues in dispute and preventing the City from presenting its final settlement offer.
Review of the record indicates that prior to the hearing, the parties stipulated to the economic issues in dispute and said stipulation was accepted by the arbitration panel. In their prehearing stipulation, the parties stated that "final offers on each impasse issue shall be exchanged by the parties and copies of each shall be provided to the Arbitrator not later than the start of the arbitration hearing on February 1, 2000. Such final offers may not be changed except by ...