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Village of Bolingbrook v. Bolingbrook Firefighters Association

March 30, 2004

[5] VILLAGE OF BOLINGBROOK, PETITIONER,
v.
BOLINGBROOK FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION, LOCAL 3005, FIREFIGHTER JERRY CARLEY, ILLINOIS LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, STATE PANEL, MANNY HOFFMAN, MIKE BRESLAN, AND THOMAS WALSH, CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AS MEMBERS OF THE ILLINOIS LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, STATE PANEL, RESPONDENTS.



[6] Petition for Review of an Order of the Illinois Labor Relations Board, State Panel. No. S-CA-0l-069

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McDADE

[8]  This appeal from the Illinois Labor Relations Board involves a dispute between the respondents, the Bolingbrook Firefighter's Association and various members and officers, and the petitioner the Village of Bolingbrook. The petitioner argues that it was improper for the Board to deny a variance from the deadline for filing an answer in the matter, that the respondents have failed to allege an unfair labor practice, and that the remedy fashioned by the Board exceeded its authority. For the following reasons, we disagree and affirm the Board's decision in favor of the respondents.

[9]  BACKGROUND

[10]   The Firefighters Association filed an unfair labor practice charge against the village with the Illinois State Labor Relations Board (ILRB) claiming that the village engaged in an unfair labor relations practice by taking an adverse employment action against respondent Jerry Carley, a firefighter and union official, in retaliation for certain protected activities.

[11]   The complaint alleged that prior to August 15, 2000, Carley had been chosen on various occasions to act as the station commander of his fire station. Also prior to the 15th of August, Carley, who was the vice-president of the Bolingbrook Chapter of the Firefighter's Association, was lobbying for the establishment of a "foreign fire insurance board" for the Village of Bolingbrook.

[12]   A foreign fire insurance board is a municipal body, authorized by section 11--10--2 of the Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/11--10--2 (West 2003)), and permitted to receive revenues from the foreign fire insurance tax for the benefit of the local fire department. The foreign fire insurance tax, authorized by section 11--10--1 of the Municipal Code, (65 ILCS 5/11--10--2 (West 2003)), is a 2% tax imposed on specific revenues of insurance underwriters not located within the taxing district. The target revenues are those generated from fire insurance policies written on property within the taxing district.

[13]   At the time of the events relevant to the suit, the Village of Bolingbrook had levied the foreign fire insurance tax, but had not created the tax board. Therefore, revenues from the tax were placed in the village's general revenue fund instead of being allocated for the benefit of the fire department.

[14]   Carley began a petition campaign among the firefighters in the village seeking the formation of the board, so that the tax could be used for the exclusive benefit of the fire department. The petition was to be submitted to the mayor and village board of trustees.

[15]   On August 15, 2000, Carley was told that he would no longer be allowed to act as a station commander. The union alleged in its charge that the action was taken in retaliation for Carley's role in attempting to have the board established. As a result of the perceived retaliation, the union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the village on October 12, 2000. Following a seventeen-month investigation, the ILRB issued a complaint on behalf of the union on March 12, 2002. The complaint was received by the village on March 14, 2002, and it notified the defendant that, under Board rules, an answer to the complaint had to be filed within 15 days of service or all allegations in the complaint would be deemed admitted. The answer was due on March 29, 2002, but the village missed the deadline.

[16]   The village moved for leave to file an answer instanter on April 9, 2002. In the motion, the village sought a variance from the 15 day deadline, alleging that its attorney had been briefly ill and otherwise too busy with other matters to timely file an answer to the complaint.

[17]   On July 19, 2002, the administrative law judge (ALJ) assigned to the case recommended that the request for a variance be denied, since the village had not alleged any exceptional circumstances that would warrant an easing of the rules. The ALJ also recommended that a default judgment be entered against the village, finding that it had engaged in an unfair labor practice, and that, as a remedy, Carley be reinstated to his position as acting station commander and that he be granted any back pay to which he was entitled. The Board adopted the ALJ's recommendations.

[18]   The Village of Bolingbrook appeals that decision.

[19]   ANALYSIS

[20]   On appeal, the petitioner argues (1) that the ILRB erred in not granting a variance from its rules to allow it to file a late answer to the charge, (2) that the firefighters did not establish a prima facie case of an unfair labor practice, and (3) that the remedy ...


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