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International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Caption Local 21 v. Illinois Labor Relations Board

September 28, 2011


Decision Under Petition for review of order of Illinois Labor Relations Board, Local Review Panel, Nos. L-AC-10-006, L-UC-10-001, L-RC-10-001.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Salone

Rule 23 Order filed August 25, 2011

Rule 23 Order withdrawn September 21, 2011

Held The Illinois Labor Relations Board had the authority to dismiss a petition (Note: This syllabus seeking to sever three of respondent city's job classifications from an constitutes no part of existing collective bargaining unit without a hearing if the Board the opinion of the court determined there was no reasonable cause to believe a question of but has been prepared representation existed, and in the instant case the dismissal was not by the Reporter of clearly erroneous where the majority interest petition filed by petitioner Decisions for the was not a procedurally proper means to achieve a severance, petitioner convenience of the did not satisfy the two-part test for severance, petitioner presented no reader.) basis to reconsider the appropriateness of the bargaining unit or to show that the employees seeking the severance had dominant interests that were incompatible with the interests of the larger unit, there was no "long-standing" conflict or ineffective representation, and the fact that the existing unit voted to approve an agreement to exchange layoffs for concessions was a reasonable tradeoff in the bargaining process.

Judgment Affirmed.

Panel JUSTICE SALONE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Lavin and Justice Sterba concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 This is a direct appeal from a final order of the Illinois Labor Relations Board (the Board) dismissing petitions filed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 21 (Local 21). In these petitions, Local 21 sought to sever three of respondent City of Chicago's (City) job classifications--Police Communications Officers I and II (PCOs) and Aviation Communications Officers (ACOs)--from the existing collective bargaining unit for public safety employees, commonly known as "Unit II." Currently, employees of Unit II are jointly represented by Local 21 and respondent Service Employees International Union, Local 73 (Local 73). Alleging that PCOs and ACOs shared a significant and distinct community of interest, and that they also had conflicts with other segments of the bargaining unit resulting in ineffective representation, Local 21 requested that these three job classifications be severed from Unit II and that Local 21 be certified as their exclusive representative.

¶ 2 The City filed an objection to the petitions, alleging they were procedurally and substantively deficient. Local 73 intervened, and also objected on similar grounds. An administrative law judge (ALJ) agreed with respondents and subsequently issued a recommended decision and order that the case be dismissed.

¶ 3 Local 21 filed exceptions with the Board, challenging the ALJ's recommendation. The City and Local 73 filed responses to these exceptions. Ultimately, the Board accepted the ALJ's recommendation and dismissed the petitions. Local 21 now appeals the decision of the Board,*fn1 contending that it erred in dismissing Local 21's case. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the Board's ruling.


¶ 5 Unit II is the City's collective bargaining unit for public safety employees, composed of classifications of non-sworn personnel generally involved in a law enforcement or protective service function. Upon its creation in 1984, Unit II consisted of 15 public safety job classifications. Between 1993 and 1995, PCO and ACO classifications were added to Unit II. Currently, there are approximately 2,100 employees in Unit II, of which approximately 375 fall within the PCO and ACO classifications.

¶ 6 Since 1984, Unit II has been represented by a coalition of unions, and since 1986, the City and Unit II's joint representatives have negotiated collective bargaining agreements covering all Unit II job classifications. Currently, the joint representatives of Unit II are Local 21--which represents only those employees with PCO and ACO titles--and Local 73, which represents all other job classifications within the unit.

¶ 7 Unit II's seventh collective bargaining agreement was negotiated by the parties during the summer of 2009.*fn2 On July 17, 2009, near the end of negotiations on this agreement, Local 21 filed three petitions with the Board: a representation petition, which Local 21 designated as a "majority interest petition"; a unit clarification petition; and a petition to amend certification. In a letter accompanying the petitions, counsel for Local 21 stated that all three were "directed to the same purpose: to sever the [PCO I], [PCO II] and [ACO] classifications from a larger unit known as the Public Safety Employees Union Unit II" and create a stand-alone bargaining unit. The letter further stated that severance was warranted on the basis that the petitioning group "share[s] a significant and distinct community of interest and ha[s] received ineffective representation of their particular interests within Unit II *** [to the extent that] Local 21 and the employees it represents no longer consent to joint representation." The letter concluded: "We regret any confusion that may be caused by filing three separate petitions, but we were unable to locate any statutory or regulatory source that identifies precisely the form of petition required for this purpose." The petitions were signed by 315 of 375 employees in the three specified classifications.

¶ 8 The City filed a response, alleging that the petitions were "procedurally inappropriate" under both the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (5 ILCS 315/1 et seq. (West 2010)) (Act) and the Board's rules and regulations contained within the Illinois Administrative Code (80 Ill. Adm. Code 1210 et seq. (2011)). The City also contended that the petitions were substantively deficient, in that Local 21 suggested no facts to satisfy the Board's standards for allowing severance from an already-existing bargaining unit. Thereafter, Local 73 also filed a position statement largely mirroring the arguments set forth by the City.

¶ 9 On September 25, 2009, the ALJ issued a recommended decision and order dismissing the petitions. As an initial matter, the ALJ determined that both the unit clarification petition and the petition to amend certification were procedurally inappropriate for seeking to sever a segment of employees from an existing bargaining unit and placing them into a newly created stand-alone unit.

¶ 10 The ALJ further found that the representation petition was also procedurally barred. The ALJ observed that Local 21 filed this petition as a "majority interest petition"*fn3 rather than as an "election petition." However, because PCOs and ACOs were already represented for purposes of collective bargaining, the ALJ determined that pursuant to the Board's rules (80 Ill. Adm. Code 1210.20(b) (2011)), a petition to sever a fragment of employees from a larger bargaining unit is only properly filed as an election petition.

¶ 11 Apart from the petitions' procedural deficiencies, the ALJ further determined that they were also substantively deficient. The ALJ found that even if Local 21 refiled its severance petition in the proper form, it would still be unable to demonstrate that severance is appropriate because it failed to present sufficient facts to satisfy the Board's two-part test.

¶ 12 Relying upon City of Chicago, 9 PERI ¶ 3008 (ILLRB 1993) (hereinafter City of Chicago (Aviation Security Officers)), the ALJ first found that Local 21 did not establish that the PCOs and ACOs shared a significant and distinct community of interest apart from the larger unit. The ALJ noted that a petitioner "must do more than demonstrate that the ...

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