The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge
This case began over four years ago, when more than 50 Plaintiffs brought suit against state and union officials in two separate actions that are now consolidated. The Plaintiffs, former Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Captains, allege infringement of their First Amendment rights, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Specifically, the Plaintiffs allege that officials of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) made large campaign contributions to former Governor Rod Blagojevich in exchange for State action to punish the Captains for attempting to organize with a rival labor organization--the Illinois State Employee Association (ISEA). The Plaintiffs allege that the elimination of the Captain Position and subsequent loss of seniority was orchestrated by AFSCME in order to hurt the Plaintiffs.
Over the years, the Plaintiffs have fruitlessly sought to find evidence of a corrupt conspiracy between AFSCME and officials in the administration of former Governor Blagojevich.
After exhaustive discovery, countless delays, and great expense, the Plaintiffs are no closer to their objective than when they began.
The fishing expedition ends today. Summary judgment for the Defendants.
The Plaintiffs were employed as IDOC Captains prior to August 1, 2003. On August 1, 2003 the Captain Position was eliminated.
Rod Blagojevich became Governor of the State of Illinois in January 2003.*fn1 Julie Curry was the Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Blagojevich, and was responsible for about fifteen State agencies, including IDOC.
Roger E. Walker became the director of IDOC in June of 2003. James Underwood was the Personnel Director of IDOC and Justin Smock was the Assistant Chief of Labor Relations. Curry, Smock, Underwood, and Walker are referred to collectively as the State Officials.
AFSCME's Council 31 represents over 30,000 employees of the State of Illinois. Henry Bayer is the Executive Director of AFSCME Council 31, and Buddy Maupin is a Regional Director of AFSCME Council 31. Maupin is also AFSCME Council 31's liason to IDOC, and AFSCME represents approximately 10,000 IDOC employees. Maupin and Bayer are collectively called the AFSCME Officials.
B. Organizing the Captains
ISEA was affiliated with the Laborers' International Union of North America and, like AFSCME, made significant campaign contributions to Blagojevich's 2002 campaign. In 2002, ISEA made the decision to begin in earnest the campaign to organize the Captains. It appears that card signing was occurring in late 2002 and early 2003, and that papers were filed with the State of Illinois to represent the Captains in early 2003.*fn2
C. Elimination of the Captain Position
During his gubernatorial campaign Blagojevich promised to eliminate layers of management in state government to save money and increase efficiency.
In early 2003, it appeared that the State of Illinois would run out of funds before the end of the fiscal year. After receiving orders from Governor Blagojevich, Curry directed IDOC and other state agencies to streamline organizational structures.
The decision to eliminate the Captain Position was made before March 2003. In March 2003, the governor's office prepared a proposed budget, effective July 1, 2003, that did not fund the Captain Position.*fn3
On April 17, 2003, Curry met with the AFSCME Officials and informed them that the State would eliminate the Captain Position. Prior to the April 17 meeting, the AFSCME Officials did not have any conversations or any other communications with Curry or any other State Official regarding the elimination of the Captain Position.
The AFSCME Officials never had any conversations with former Governor Blagojevich regarding the elimination of the Captain Position. The AFSCME Officials did not participate in or have any involvement in the decision to eliminate the Captain Position. Furthermore, the AFSCME Officials did not request or encourage the Governor or the State Officials to eliminate the Captain Position. Governor Blagojevich eliminated the Captain Position through a line item veto.
IDOC planned to promote a limited number of the eliminated Captains, while offering the rest either layoff or demotion to lower ranks, primarily to Lieutenant or Correction Officer. The State Officials believed that the State would save money by moving former Captains to vacant Lieutenant and Correction Officer positions, because the demoted Captains were already fully trained for the lower-level positions.
After the April 17 meeting, IDOC informed AFSCME that some former Captains would be demoted to Lieutenant. This decision could have adversely affected AFSCME members who were striving to be promoted to Lieutenant. AFSCME launched a campaign to persuade the Governor and the State Officials that the Captains should not be offered lower jobs within the bargaining unit.
AFSCME filed a grievance on May 28, 2003, complaining of the filling of the Lieutenant Positions with former Captains. The Governor and the State Officials did not accept the AFSCME position and the matter eventually went to arbitration, where the Blagojevich Administration prevailed over AFSCME in September 2003.
In July 2003, IDOC informed AFSCME that Captains who accepted demotion to Correction Officer would be given credit for past service in the collective bargaining unit before their earlier promotions. At a labor management meeting on July 16, 2003, Bayer stated that the intent of the contract language was clear that Captains should not get seniority credit for past service in the R-6 bargaining unit.*fn4
The master contract provided:
Seniority for RC-6 and 9 shall, for the purposes stated in this Agreement, consist of the length of service of an employee with their department in an AFSCME bargaining unit(s), except when a previously excluded position enters a bargaining unit pursuant to labor board procedures, seniority for an employee in that position shall consist of the employee's total length of service with their department.
AFSCME interpreted "length of service" as "continuous length of service," while the State interpreted it to include noncontinuous periods of service within the bargaining unit.
AFSCME filed a grievance regarding the State's decision to award seniority to demoted Captains. The grievance was handled by the Department of Central Management Services (CMS), because all available recourse with IDOC had already been exhausted. CMS decided in November 2003 that the State's position was not viable, and the grievance was resolved ...