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American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 v. Illinois State Labor Relations Board

839 N.E.2d 479 (2005)

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American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 v. Illinois State Labor Relations Board

Illinois Supreme Court

839 N.E.2d 479 (2005)

Facts

The Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) contracted with private vendor Wexford Health Services, Inc. (Wexford), to provide medical care to inmates. The contract stated Wexford was an independent contractor. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31 (plaintiff) was the exclusive representative of Wexford’s bargaining-unit employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and had signed a collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) with Wexford. DOC was not a party to the CBA. AFSCME subsequently filed a representation/certification petition and an unfair-labor-practice charge with the Illinois State Labor Relations Board (board) (appellee). While acknowledging that AFSCME already represented the Wexford employees under the federal NLRA, AFSCME noted that DOC was a public employer under state law. AFSCME contended DOC was a joint employer of the Wexford employees by virtue of its theoretical, indirect control over conditions of employment, such as the authority to exclude Wexford employees from its facilities and subject employees to security regulations. AFSCME therefore sought to bargain with two employers—Wexford under the NLRA and DOC—under the state labor-relations law. The board dismissed AFSCME’s petition and unfair-labor-practice charge on the ground that DOC exercised little meaningful control over Wexford’s employees and was therefore not a joint employer. AFSCME appealed on the grounds that the existence of theoretical, indirect control over terms and conditions of employment was sufficient to determine joint-employer status. The appellate court set aside the board’s decision as clearly erroneous. DOC then filed a petition with the Illinois Supreme Court for leave to appeal, which was granted.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Freemen, J.)

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