As the Illinois Supreme Court held in Board of Education of the City of Chicago v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, 215 IL 118043: “A school district may refuse to arbitrate a grievance where: (1) there is no contractual agreement to arbitrate the substance of the dispute or (2) the dispute is not arbitrable under section 10(b) of the Act because the subject matter of the dispute conflicts with Illinois law.” As the Court further held, “[T]he mere existence of a dispute” does not in and of itself make a matter arbitrable under a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”).
In Board of Education v. IELRB, the issue was whether the placement of “Do Not Hire” designations in the personnel files of probationary appointed teachers, whom the board determined not to rehire, was an arbitrable violation of the CBA. Under both factors listed above, the Court held it was not.
First, the Court noted that the CBA followed the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (“IELRA”), with both stating that the employer is not bound to bargain over matters of inherent managerial policy, but is bound to bargain over wagers, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. Grievances filed over the Do Not Hire designations did not relate to wages, hours, or other terms and conditions of employment; rather, the grievances were related to the board’s ability to make hiring decisions. There was no contractual agreement, then, to make the grievances arbitrable. The Court further noted that arbitrating the grievances would violate Illinois statutes by requiring arbitration over those matters of “inherent managerial policy” under the IELRA. Moreover, arbitration of the grievances would violate the School Code by requiring the board to hire teachers whom it was precluded from hiring under the Code and delegate its discretionary power to terminate probationary teachers to an arbitrator.