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Health & Hospital System of County of Cook v. Illinois Labor Relations Board

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

December 31, 2015


          Petition for Administrative Review of a Decision and Order of the Illinois Labor Relations Board, Local Panel. No. L RC 14 009.

         For APPELLANT: Anita Alvarez, State's Attorney of Cook County, Daniel F. Gallagher, Deputy State's Attorney, James Pullos, Assistant State's Attorney, Andrew J. Creighton, Assistant State's Attorney, Chicago, Illinois.

         For APPELLEE: Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, Carolyn E. Shapiro, Solicitor General, Daniel J. Hartweg, Assistant Attorney General, Chicago, Illinois.

         JUSTICE GORDON delivered the judgment of the court. Presiding Justice Reyes and Justice Lampkin concurred in the judgment.



          [¶1] The Health and Hospital System (HHS) of the County of Cook (the County), petitioner, appeals from a final order of the Illinois Labor Relations Board (the Board), granting Local 200, Chicago Joint Board, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, AFL-CIO's (the Union's) petition to add ten recruiting positions to the existing bargaining unit. We affirm.

          [¶2] The sole issue in this appeal is whether ten recruitment and selection analysts (RSA) employed by a county hospital system are " confidential employees" as that term is defined in section 3(c) of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (Act) (5 ILCS 315/3(c) (West 2012)). The Act permits public employees to organize, but it excludes confidential employees from the collective bargaining unit. 5 ILCS 315/3(n) (West 2012).

          [¶3] The petitioner on appeal is the County. In its petition, the County challenged the Board's finding that RSAs, who are county employees, are not confidential employees. It is this decision that the County asks us to review. Respondents are: (1) the Board; and (2) the Union.

         [¶4] BACKGROUND

          [¶5] This case is a direct administrative review action from an order of the Board. The order granted the Union's majority interest representation petition, which sought to add the ten RSA positions at Stroger Hospital, an affiliate HHS, to the existing bargaining unit.

          [¶6] The Union filed its initial petition with the Board on April 2, 2014. The County filed a response opposing the petition, arguing that RSAs were prohibited by statute from joining the Union both as " confidential employees" as defined under section 3(c) of the Act, as well as " supervisors" under section 3(r) (5 ILCS 315/3(c), (r) (West 2012)). After an evidentiary hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ) issued a recommended decision, finding that RSAs are neither confidential employees nor supervisors under the Act. Subsequently, the Board adopted the ALJ's findings in a written " Decision and Order," and granted the Union's petition to add RSAs to the bargaining unit.

          [¶7] The County does not contest the Board's finding that RSAs are not supervisors and, thus, at issue in this appeal is only whether RSAs are confidential employees. Accordingly, the facts below are limited to those relevant to determining whether RSAs are confidential employees. As we discuss later in the analysis, confidential employees are those employees (1) who assist management with respect to labor-relations policy; or (2) who have access to collective bargaining information. 5 ILCS 315/3(c) (West 2012).

         [¶8] I. The Administrative Hearing

          [¶9] On July 18, 2014, an administrative law judge (ALJ) held a hearing to determine whether the ten RSAs were confidential or supervisory employees within the meaning of the Act, and were therefore prohibited from collective bargaining. During the hearing, the parties presented the following evidence relevant to determining whether RSAs are confidential employees.

         [¶10] A. RSA Job Description

          [¶11] The basic job responsibilities for the RSA position were detailed in an official job description from the Human Resources Department of HHS. The description contains a job summary which provides, in relevant part:

" Under minimal supervision of [(1)] the Bureau Chief of Human Resources, [(2)] Deputy Chief of Human Resources, and [(3)] Manager of Recruitment and Selections [the RSAs are] engaged in highly confidential screening, tracking and evaluation of job applicants' records relative to the recruitment and selection process for offices under the jurisdiction of County Board President. Utilizes the Automated Tracking Application System (ATAS) for applicant selection accuracy. Coordinates efforts with all areas of the Human Resources Bureau to ensure strict adherence to policies and procedures, Employment Plan guidelines and other protocols. Consults with Bureau Chief and Deputy as well as other management to review policies and identify where changes are needed to ensure that established criteria relative to fair and objective hiring are met. May participate in the evaluation and testing of applicants, determine work priorities and train other staff in all operations relative to the recruitment and selections process."

          [¶12] The job description also includes a list of typical duties for the RSA position. RSAs implement " the policies and procedures established by the Human Resources Bureau and explain them to the general public, County's departmental personnel and other governmental agencies via telephone or in-person." RSAs additionally act " as a liaison to department heads in the preparation of current job descriptions and minimum qualifications necessary to qualify for select positions and to acclimate them to the policies and procedures associated with task analysis to produce job descriptions and job postings forms," and " [m]ay serve as a liaison on special advisory committees which analyze the various components of exams: establishing weighted values, determining test sites, scheduling exams, preparing exam materials, coordinating oral interviews, producing examination announcements, proctoring exams, rating test applicants and utilizing the ATAS[1] for applicant selection accuracy." RSAs also assist " hiring managers as it pertains to recruitment, staffing issues, policies and procedures," and conduct " reference checks and employment verification for review and approval." Lastly, an RSA will prepare an " offer letter for selected candidate in a timely fashion," and provide " basic benefit information to hiring managers and candidates."

         [¶13] B. HHS Human Resources Department Organization Chart

          [¶14] The County provided the ALJ with an organization chart depicting the structure of the HHS Human Resources Department. It indicates that the Chief of the Department of Human Resources reports directly to the HHS Chief Executive Officer. The chief supervises a deputy chief, who in turn oversees the five divisions of the Human Resources Department: " Learning and Development," " Labor and Employment Counsel" (Labor Team), " Workforce Development and Talent Acquisition," " Inpatient Support Services," and " Outpatient Support Services." The chart shows that class and compensation and recruiting employees, including RSAs, fall under Workforce Development and Talent Acquisition.

         [¶15] C. Chief of Human Resources Testimony

          [¶16] At the administrative hearing, the ALJ first heard testimony from Gladys Lopez, the current Chief of Human Resources for HHS. In that capacity, her duties involved " managing the strategic vision of the department, executing policies, creating policies as part of the organizational strategy," and " working with department heads on various HR-related matters." As part of these responsibilities, she oversaw recruitment, labor, class and compensation, and operational matters. She testified that she attended some, but not all, labor negotiations in her role as human resources chief.

          [¶17] Lopez testified that she was familiar with RSAs and their role in the department. At the time of the hearing, there were approximately ten RSAs. Their basic duties involved posting job listings on " TALEO," HHS' online applicant tracking system.[2] TALEO includes job listings for which both internal candidates and external candidates may apply. However, to comply with existing collective bargaining agreements, the department must initially list vacancies on TALEO only for internal applicants. After a set period of time, the department may open vacancies to applicants outside HHS or the relevant bargaining unit. RSAs must ensure that HHS complies with any relevant collective bargaining agreements in making hiring decisions.

          [¶18] After listing a position on TALEO, the RSA reviewed submitted applications and evaluated applicants' qualifications against the minimum qualifications necessary for the position.

          [¶19] Next, the RSA prepared a " validated eligibility list" of candidates who met the qualifications. The RSA then submitted the list to the appropriate department head or hiring manager to begin the interview process. At this step, the RSA again determined that there was compliance with collective bargaining agreements. For example, Lopez testified, " for [a union such as] Local 200, *** while their employees may have applied, if they're not members of Local 200, they will not be given to the hiring manager, so the [RSA] has to also make sure that they are in compliance with the [bargaining agreement] to ensure that they only give Local 200 members to the hiring manager on an internal posting." This was the only stage in the recruitment process where RSAs could personally disqualify a candidate, but such a disqualification was generally final. In sum, the RSA determines that the applicant is a member of the union.

          [¶20] In some cases, RSAs had a role in shaping minimum qualifications for certain vacancies that proved difficult to fill. " For example," Lopez testified, " if we see that we have posted a position several times externally and we are not getting candidates, we ask [RSAs] to conduct an analysis and provide the department head a reason why." The RSA then made recommendations to the department head regarding which qualifications could be adjusted to increase the applicant pool, or ensure a better fit for the department's needs. RSAs coordinated with departments looking to fill vacancies to " identify strategies" to meet their hiring needs.

          [¶21] Lopez testified that RSAs played a role in labor grievance procedures. Grievances generally arose when an applicant for employment or candidate for a change of a position, who did not reach the interview stage, or who was interviewed but not ultimately selected for a transfer or promotion, sought to contest the County's hiring decision. Grievances were first directed to the management labor team, consisting of the director, two labor attorneys, two labor assistants, and two labor analysts. This team reported to Lopez. If a grievance related to a recruitment issue, the labor team would contact the RSA responsible for that job listing. The RSA then researched the grievance, prepared a summary of the incident, and then meet with the labor team to discuss the results of their research. Lopez testified that if RSAs were included in the Union, and a Union member raised a grievance, the RSA would have to address a grievance from a member of his or her own union. An RSA sometimes testifies concerning grievances arising out of a hiring decision in which they were involved. An RSA could be called to testify in a grievance hearing where the grievant is a member of the Union.

          [¶22] Lopez testified that she was involved during collective bargaining between HHS and the Union. RSAs may be involved " [i]n connection with suggestions for job descriptions or postings or recruiting areas, posting, [and] the validation process," and " they have also started working with [the] class and comp[ensation] team on market studies" to determine what other organizations are paying for similar positions. Lopez testified that RSAs' input " potentially" affects HHS' bargaining strategy. She testified that RSAs ...

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