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Village of Maryville v. Illinois Labor Relations Board

June 29, 2010


Petition for the Review of an Order of the Illinois Labor Relations Board, State Panel. No. S-UC-06-064.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Spomer

NOTICE Decision filed 06/29/10. The text of this dec ision may be changed or corrected prior to the filing of a Petition for Rehearing or the disposition of the same.

The Village of Maryville (Maryville) appeals from the order of the Illinois Labor Relations Board, State Panel (the Board), dated September 30, 2008, that granted the petition of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council (the Council) for unit clarification of the existing bargaining unit and certified the Council as the exclusive representative for all full-time sergeant-ranked police officers employed by Maryville. On appeal, Maryville contends that the Board's decision was in error, arguing that because the sergeant-ranked police officers are deemed supervisors pursuant to section 3(r) of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (the Act) (5 ILCS 315/3(r) (West 2006)), they cannot be included in the same bargaining unit as their subordinate patrol officers. We reverse and remand with directions that the Board enter an order denying the Council's petition for unit clarification.


The Council filed a petition for unit clarification with the Board on March 24, 2006, seeking to include all sergeants employed by Maryville's police department (the department) in the existing bargaining unit. At the time of the petition, the existing bargaining unit was composed of full-time Maryville police officers below the rank of sergeant, including detectives and patrol officers. On April 12, 2006, Maryville filed an objection to the petition, contending that the sergeants are supervisors within the meaning of section 3(r) of the Act (5 ILCS 315/3(r) (West 2006)) and thus could not be included in an expanded bargaining unit with their subordinate patrol officers.

The Board held a hearing on the petition on May 17, 2007. Richard Schardan testified as follows. He has been the chief of the department since 2003. As chief, he is the top-ranking officer. At the time of the hearing, the department employed two sergeants, eight patrol officers, and one detective. The sergeants are considered the command staff for the department. The department's policies-and-procedures manual and the department's general orders define the duties of sergeants and patrol officers. Unlike patrol officers, sergeants are assigned the duties of enforcing regulatory measures, supervising personnel, and temporarily relieving subordinates that exhibit improper behavior. Sergeants are required by the terms of the manual to assign work activities and projects to the patrol officers and to assist in planning and organizing functions, such as assisting in the analysis of beat organization and design, participating in the development of a budget, and forecasting additional funds for equipment and staffing. Finally, the manual contemplates that a sergeant would review union agreements and interpret the administration of their provisions.

The chief testified that sergeants are the supervisors for all patrol officers, each managing their own squad. They work from 4 p.m. until 4 a.m. The chief is off duty for the majority of their shifts, as he typically works a daytime shift until 5:15 p.m. When the chief is on leave, the sergeants attend Maryville board meetings to represent the department in his stead. The sergeants review all vacation, personal, and sick leave requests. If the sergeant approves a request, the chief will review the approval. However, if the sergeant denies the request, the chief does not review the denial. The sergeants also assist the chief in developing new policies and procedures within the department, such as performance evaluations. They can authorize overtime and call officers to come in when additional personnel are needed.

According to the chief, the sergeants use independent judgment in making patrol assignments. They also have the authority to impose or recommend discipline for any patrol officer, including the power to issue oral and written reprimands or warnings. They review and approve the reports of the patrol officers, requiring them to correct or make additions to the reports when the sergeant deems that to be necessary. The sergeants conduct performance evaluations of the patrol officers, which have, in the past, been forwarded to the village personnel committee. At the time of the hearing, the chief, with the help of one of the sergeants, was in the process of developing a more streamlined performance-evaluation process for the department. Also, the sergeants are responsible for scheduling all training sessions for the patrol officers.

Further, the chief testified that he is concerned that if the sergeants become members of the collective bargaining unit, they would be put in a conflict-of-interest situation when it came to disciplining patrol officers and maintaining the confidentiality of command staff discussions regarding personnel issues. The sergeants report to the chief on particular management topics, such as counseling sessions they have had with patrol officers, via e-mail. As an example, the chief stated that one of the sergeants e-mailed him about a counseling session he had with a patrol officer who was spending duty time at a woman's apartment.

On cross-examination, the chief testified that at the time of the hearing, the department was involved in negotiations with the Council over a contract, so there was no grievance procedure in effect. The chief also clarified that performance evaluations are filed in the personnel files for the patrol officers. These are taken into consideration by the fire and police board when determining promotions.

Tom Lange testified that he is a sergeant employed by the department. Until 2001, he served as a patrol officer. Since becoming a sergeant, his duties and responsibilities have changed because he now supervises a squad of officers. His testimony regarding his duties and responsibilities corroborated that given by the chief. He directs officers to engage in special assignments when warranted. He occasionally directs patrol officers to assist other communities pursuant to mutual aid agreements. He makes independent decisions regarding which officers to send to which training sessions. He has had to resolve conflicts and disputes between patrol officers on his squad regarding assignments and other personnel matters. He can make an independent determination regarding whether to hold a patrol officer over his shift and can issue disciplinary action against patrol officers by oral or written reprimand. He also knows he has the power to relieve officers from duty as a form of discipline, although he had not yet exercised that authority. He has the authority to call additional officers to duty when needed and conducts annual performance evaluations of the patrol officers on his squad. He also has the authority to approve or unilaterally reject requests for leave. Mr. Lange testified that he is concerned that his duties as supervisor may be in conflict with his inclusion in the collective bargaining unit, especially in the area of discipline.

Larry Gulledge testified that he has been the mayor of Maryville since 1993. He testified that Maryville is one of the fastest-growing communities in Southern Illinois, growing 27% from 2000 to 2003. Maryville has filed the paperwork to administer a special census, and Mayor Gulledge estimated that the population has grown from 5,905 residents to approximately 7,300 residents since 2003. Mayor Gulledge expects to hire more police officers in the future. When the chief is absent or unavailable, the sergeants communicate with the mayor on behalf of the department and have been involved in confidential communications with the mayor regarding issues and concerns about Maryville crime and suspects.

Following testimony and argument, the administrative law judge (the ALJ) took the petition under advisement. Before rendering a decision, the ALJ who conducted the hearing left the Board's employ and the case was reassigned. The reassigned ALJ issued a recommended decision and order on the petition on June 16, 2008. The ALJ recommended that the Council unit be clarified to include the employees in the rank of "sergeant" in the collective bargaining unit. On July 3, 2008, Maryville filed exceptions to the ALJ's recommended decision and order. On September 30, 2008, the Board issued a decision adopting the ALJ's recommendation and ordering the executive director of the Board to certify the Council as the exclusive representative for all full-time sworn police officers ...

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