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International Brotherhood of Electrical v. the City of Springfield

July 13, 2011

INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL
WORKERS, LOCAL 193,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County Honorable Leo J. Zappa, Jr., Judge Presiding. No. 10MR233

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cook

JUSTICE COOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Knecht and Justice Steigmann concurred in the judgment and opinion .

OPINION

¶ 1 Plaintiff, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 193 (Union),and defendant, the City of Springfield (City), entered into a collective-bargaining agreement covering specified employees within the City's office of public utilities. The Union submitted a grievance to a representative of the City concerning the City's failure to increase the salary of Dianna Malcom, a former member of the Union. According to the Union, a representative of the City and the Union made an oral agreement to transfer Malcom to a nonunion position in exchange for increasing Malcom's salary to $60,000. The pay increase was to take effect six months after Malcom began her nonunion position. Malcom was transferred to a nonunion position within the City's office of public utilities, but after six months in her new position, she did not receive the expected salary increase.

¶ 2 The Union filed a petition to compel arbitration of the controversy concerning Malcom's salary increase. The Union and the City subsequently filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Union and ordered the arbitration of the Malcom controversy. For the following reasons, we reverse.

¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 4 In 2007, the Union entered into a collective-bargaining agreement with the City covering specified employees within the City's office of public utilities. The collective-bargaining agreement is effective from October 1, 2007, to September 30, 2011.

¶ 5 The collective-bargaining agreement applies to "all work done by the employees of the different classifications scheduled herein" (collective-bargaining agreement, article I, section 3). Article IV of the collective-bargaining agreement specifies the employee classifications covered by the agreement.

¶ 6 Dianna Malcom served as an operator trainee III at the Miller Street Center for the City's office of public utilities. The operator trainee III position is specifically listed in the collective-bargaining agreement's classification provisions (collective-bargaining agreement, article IV, section 24). As an operator trainee III, Malcom was part of the bargaining unit represented by the Union. On January 12, 2009, Malcom was transferred to a nonunion position within the City's office of public utilities. Effective as of that date, Malcom became an office coordinator at the Knox Street warehouse.

¶ 7 The Union argues that Malcom agreed to the job transfer after the Union and Todd Renfrow, the general manager for the City's office of public utilities, orally agreed to increase Malcom's salary to $60,000. According to the Union, the pay increase was to take effect six months after Malcom began her new position as an office coordinator. The Union also claimed the oral agreement required Malcom to end a pending lawsuit against the City.

¶ 8 Section 3 of article VIII of the collective-bargaining agreement provides for a six-month probationary employment period for members of the bargaining unit who are transferred to a nonunion position under the jurisdiction of the City's civil service commission. During the six-month probationary period, an employee may return to her former position with the Union. Malcom did not make a request to return to her former position within six months of transferring to her new position.

¶ 9 On December 21, 2009, the Union submitted to Renfrow a written grievance on behalf of Malcom. In the grievance, the Union urged the City's office of public utilities to comply with the terms of the alleged oral agreement made by the Union and Renfrow concerning Malcom's salary. As of the date the grievance was submitted, Malcom had not received the pay increase promised in the alleged oral agreement. The City refused to process the grievance.

¶ 10 On April 22, 2010, the Union filed a petition to compel arbitration of the Malcom controversy. The Union, on June 2, 2010, filed a motion for summary judgment under section 2--1005 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2--1005 (West 2008)). The City filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on July 15, 2010. When the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, they invited the trial court to decide the matters at issue as questions of law. American States Insurance Co. v. Koloms, 281 Ill. App. 3d 725, 727-28, 666 N.E.2d 699, 701 (1996).

¶ 11 After a hearing on the motions, the trial court granted the Union's motion for summary judgment and petition to compel arbitration. The court found that the collective-bargaining agreement entered into by the parties was governed by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Act), specifically section 8 of the Act. 5 ILCS 315/8 (West 2008). The court, relying on City of Rockford v. Unit Six of the Policemen's Benevolent & Protective Ass'n of Illinois, 351 Ill. App. 3d 252, 813 N.E.2d 1083 (2004), interpreted section 8 of the Act as "mandating arbitration of grievances unless the parties have specifically agreed otherwise." The court granted summary judgment to the Union and ordered the arbitration ...


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