Direct Review of the Illinois Labor Relations Board, State Panel No. S-RC-10-194
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Turner
delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Appleton and Knecht concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Petitioner, the Department of Central Management Services (CMS), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), brings this action for direct review of a decision by the Illinois Labor Relations Board, State Panel (Board), granting the majority interest petition brought by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 (Union) to represent certain IDOT employees.
¶ 2 The Board, adopting the administrative law judge's (ALJ) findings, concluded the field technicians and one technical manager were not supervisors within the meaning of section 3(r) of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Act) (5 ILCS 315/3(r) (West 2010)) and thus were eligible for inclusion in the collective-bargaining unit.
¶ 3 On appeal, petitioner argues the Board's certification of representation was against the manifest weight of the evidence, clearly erroneous, and/or contrary to law because the petitioned-for employees are supervisory employees under the Act. We reverse.
¶ 5 Because the parties are familiar with the facts, we discuss them only to the extent necessary to put the parties' arguments in context.
¶ 6 A. Procedural History
¶ 7 In February 2010, the Union filed a representation-certification petition with the Board, seeking to become the exclusive bargaining representative of a bargaining unit of approximately 80 employees described as follows:
"All full-time and regular part-time employees in the following classification: Engineering Technician V, Engineering Technician IV (Bridge Maintenance Technician, Bridge Inspection Technician, Traffic Operations Technician, Equipment Technician and all other Engineering Technician IV titles which are currently not represented by another labor organization), Technical Manager VI (Central Operations Division of Highways, sign shop position only)."
At the start of the hearing before the ALJ in August 2010, the parties stipulated "the issue for hearing is whether any of the petitioned for employees in this case are supervisors within the meaning of Section 3(r) of the Act." The parties also stipulated IDOT is an employer under the Act, the Union is a labor organization under the Act, and the principal work requirement of the petitioned-for employees is different from work performed by their subordinates.
¶ 9 IDOT is divided into nine districts, and each district is responsible for the maintenance of state roadways, including snow and ice removal, grass mowing, and pothole patching. The hierarchy of positions in each district is as follows: district engineer; operations manager/operations engineer; field engineers; field technicians/yard technicians; lead lead workers; lead workers; and highway maintainers.
¶ 10 District engineers typically oversee two districts. Operations managers are in charge of maintenance operations for their districts. The field engineer, a member of the Teamsters union, reports to the operations manager.
¶ 11 Following the field engineers are the positions at issue in this case, the engineering technicians IV and V (ET-IV and ET-V), commonly referred to as yard technicians or field technicians. The parties agreed the job descriptions of ET-IV and ET-V employees are substantially similar. Field technicians generally supervise two- to four-team sections. Below field technicians are lead lead workers, lead workers, and highway maintainers. Lead lead workers and lead workers are responsible for monitoring work and ensuring the work is performed properly. Highway maintainers are full-time, year-round employees, with the exception of "snowbirds," who are seasonal, full-time workers hired during winter months. The lead lead workers, lead workers, and highway maintainers are members of the Teamsters union.
¶ 12 C. The Evidence Regarding the Supervisory Authority of Field Technicians
¶ 13 The parties stipulated the field technicians' work was substantially different from that of the lead workers and highway maintainers. Field technicians spend part of their workday addressing permit requests, guardrail damage claims, and other calls and complaints. Field technicians generally begin their day by sorting through e-mail and main correspondence, responding to and checking on complaints, and prioritizing issues concerning public complaints and legislative inquiries. Field technicians maintain logs of routes and damage, submit claims to district headquarters, obtain information regarding inspection of damage and repairs, and verify that any damage was repaired. The actual repair work is performed by the highway maintainers, who are monitored by the lead workers.
¶ 14 1. The Evidence Regarding Direction
¶ 15 Field technicians approve leave requests. Aaron Weatherholt, IDOT bureau chief for the central bureau of operations, testified field technicians spend approximately 5% to 10% of their time approving leave requests. Field technicians also approve overtime, but only in a manner consistent with the union contract. Rodney Masterson, a labor relations manager at IDOT, testified field technicians have discretion whether overtime needs to be worked. Overtime may be required in the event of flooding, nighttime calls for accidents, downed trees, and other unforeseen events. If overtime is required, field technicians inform upper levels of management. The operations manager decides whether to exceed the minimum overtime, and field technicians then have the authority to upgrade it. Weatherholt estimated field technicians spend 5% of their time determining the need for and scheduling overtime.
¶ 16 When it snows, field technicians spend the majority of their workday on the road. In the event of an expected large snowstorm, field technicians instruct their lead workers to mobilize at a certain time with a certain amount of manpower. If a surprise snowstorm hits, field technicians receive a call from the communication center, contact their lead workers, and instruct them to send out snowplows. Lead workers then call out the highway maintainers.
¶ 17 Carman IaCullo, an assistant regional engineer at IDOT, estimated field technicians spend 12% of their day assigning work. Weatherholt estimated field technicians spend 50% of their time assigning work. After field technicians prioritize work issues and consult with lead workers, the lead workers ...