Antry v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Bd.

Decision Date15 March 1990
Docket NumberNo. 4-88-0314,4-88-0314
Citation552 N.E.2d 313,195 Ill.App.3d 221,141 Ill.Dec. 945
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Parties, 141 Ill.Dec. 945, 59 Ed. Law Rep. 813 Vern E. ANTRY, et al., Petitioners, v. ILLINOIS EDUCATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD and Sparta Education Association, IEA, NEA, Respondents.

Bruce N. Cameron, John C. Scully, Nat. Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, Springfield, Va., James A. Rapp, Hutmacher, Rapp & Ortbal, P.C., Quincy, Ill., for petitioners.

Robert H. Chanin, Bruce R. Lerner, Bredhoff & Kaiser, Washington, D.C., Sandra J. Holman, Illinois Educ. Ass'n, Springfield, Ill., for Sparta Educ. Ass'n.

Neil F. Hartigan, Atty. Gen., Chicago, Ill., Robert J. Ruiz, Sol. Gen., William D. Frazier, Asst. Atty. Gen., for IELRB.

Presiding Justice KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court:

In Shinn v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (1989), 183 Ill.App.3d 915, 132 Ill.Dec. 284, 539 N.E.2d 847, this court held educational employees who are not members of educational labor unions and who are required to pay "fair-share" fees to a union which is the exclusive bargaining representative of the bargaining unit in which they are employed, must file written objections in order to obtain refunds of the portions of their fair-share fees attributable to union activities unrelated to collective bargaining. In the present case, the principal question is whether the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) properly determined the percentage of fair-share fees attributable to union activities unrelated to collective bargaining and thus refundable to objecting fee payors. An additional issue of major significance is whether nonmember fee payors were provided with information relevant to their fees sufficient to enable them to decide whether to object to the fees.

The rationale for the requirement that nonmembers of unions pay fair-share fees to the unions which are the exclusive bargaining representatives, as well as the tension between this requirement and the first amendment right of freedom of association for the advancement of ideas, were described in our opinion in Shinn, as were the Illinois statutes and the IELRB administrative regulations governing fair-share fees. Essentially, the full amount of union dues (excluding amounts attributable to political activities) may be deemed owing from a nonmember salary as a fair-share fee, subject to reduction upon the filing of objections. We will not now repeat what we stated in Shinn concerning these matters.

The present case represents a consolidation of the objections filed with the IELRB to fair-share fees for the 1985-86 and 1986-87 school years collected under the terms of at least 52 separate educational labor contracts from 207 public school and community college employees, hereafter referred to the petitioners. The fair-share fees here at issue consist of three components--(1) amounts equivalent to the dues of the National Education Association (NEA); (2) amounts equivalent to the dues of the Illinois Education Association (IEA); and (3) amounts equivalent to the dues of local educational labor unions.

After consolidating the cases involving objections to fair-share fees for 1985-86 and 1986-87, the IELRB held extensive hearings on the objections. The first hearing was held October 20, 1986, and the final session was held on April 14, 1987. Following the submission of briefs and the presentation of oral arguments on November 27, 1987, the IELRB ruled upon the objections in an opinion and order issued April 8, 1988. NEA, IEA, DuQoin Education Association, 4 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 1064, case No. 85-FS-0002-S (Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, April 8, 1988).

In its opinion and order, the IELRB held (1) as a result of the objectors having been provided with inadequate notice and information concerning the amount of their fair- share fees, the unions are not entitled to any fair-share fees from the objectors for the period preceding April 10, 1986; (2) the notices and information concerning fair-share fees which the unions sent to nonmember fee payors on April 10, 1986, complied with constitutional requirements; (3) individual hearings are not required before fair-share fees may be deducted from nonmembers' salaries; (4) the delay in the IELRB's adjudication of the objections here at issue did not violate the petitioners' constitutional rights; (5) the IELRB's consolidation of all outstanding fair-share fee objections which concerned the NEA, the IEA, and their local affiliates did not violate any of the objectors' constitutional rights; (6) nonmember fee payors must pay a proportionate share of the expenses of the NEA and the IEA which are related to collective bargaining, even if the activities of those organizations do not directly benefit their affiliated local unions in the school districts in which petitioners are employed; (7) fair-share fees may be calculated by determining the percentage of union expenses related to collective bargaining and multiplying that percentage by the amount of the union's dues; (8) for the 1985-86 school year, the NEA is entitled to fair-share fees equal to 57.19% of its dues, the IEA to fair-share fees equal to 57.40% of its dues, and the local unions to fair-share fees equal to 57.34% of their dues; and (9) for the 1986-87 school year, the NEA is entitled to fair-share fees of 57.19% of its dues, the IEA to fair-share fees of 56.25% of its dues, and the local unions' fair-share fees equal to 56.53% of their dues.

I. Adequacy of Notice

The first question presented for our review is whether, in informing petitioners of the fair-share fees which they were required to pay, the unions provided information concerning the fees sufficient to comply with the requirements of the Supreme Court's decision in Chicago Teachers Union, Local No. 1, AFT, AFL-CIO v. Hudson (1986), 475 U.S. 292, 106 S.Ct. 1066, 89 L.Ed.2d 232. In Hudson, the Court held a system established by the Chicago Teacher's Union for informing nonmembers of their obligations to pay fair-share fees and handling objections to the fees contained three fundamental flaws. First, the procedure did not protect against the possibility of the objectors' funds being temporarily used for an improper purpose such as by providing for an escrow of disputed amounts pending resolution of the objections. Second, and most importantly for our purposes here, the procedure did not provide nonmembers with adequate information about the basis for the fair-share fees. With respect to this matter, the Court stated:

"In Abood [v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), 431 U.S. 209, 97 S.Ct. 1782, 52 L.Ed.2d 261], we reiterated that the nonunion employee has the burden of raising an objection, but that the union retains the burden of proof: " 'Since the unions possess the facts and records from which the proportion of political to total union expenditures can reasonably be calculated, basic considerations of fairness compel that they, not the individual employees, bear the burden of proving such proportion.' " Abood, 431 U.S. at 239-240, n. 40, 97 S.Ct. at 1801-1802, n. 40, 52 L.Ed.2d 261, quoting Railway Clerks v. Allen, 373 U.S. 113, 122, 83 S.Ct. 1158, 1164, 10 L.Ed.2d 235 (1963).16 Basic considerations of fairness, as well as concern for the First Amendment rights at stake, also dictate that the potential objectors be given sufficient information to gauge the propriety of the union's fee. Leaving the nonunion employees in the dark about the source of the figure for the agency fee--and requiring them to object in order to receive information--does not adequately protect the careful distinctions drawn in Abood."

In this case, the original information given to the nonunion employees was inadequate. Instead of identifying the expenditures for collective bargaining and contract administration that had been provided for the benefit of nonmembers as well as members--and for which nonmembers as well as members can fairly be charged a fee--the Union identified the amount that it admittedly had expended for purposes that did not benefit dissenting nonmembers. An acknowledgment that nonmembers would not be required to pay any part of 5% of the Union's total annual expenditures was not an adequate disclosure of the reasons why they were required to pay their share of 95%.18

* * * * * *

Third, the Court held the union's procedures governing objections were defective because they did not provide for a reasonably prompt decision by an impartial decision maker. The Court stated an objecting nonmember fee payor is entitled to have his objections addressed "in an expeditious, fair, and objective manner." Hudson, 475 U.S. at 307, 106 S.Ct. at 1076, 89 L.Ed.2d at 247.

In the present case, the IEA on April 10, 1986, sent to all fee payors of its local unions a letter informing them of their obligation to pay fair-share fees for the 1985-86 school year. The letter informed them the fee which they had been assessed "is equal to the amount of all the local, state, and national dues, not exceeding the amount uniformly required of members. This amount does not include any contribution related to the election or support of any candidate for political office." The letter further informed fee payors of their right to object to the amount of the fee and provided the addresses of IELRB offices at which the necessary forms and other information could be obtained. Furthermore, the letter informed fee payors that following a full hearing in which the objectors would have the right to participate, the IELRB would ultimately determine the amounts of the fair-share fees which could be properly charged to objecting fee payors for the 1985-86 school year. The letter also explained to fee payors that pending resolution of objections for the 1985-86 school year, the fair-share fee charged fee payors who objected would be reduced to 86.7% of the dues uniformly required of...

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