The 38th Annual Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Law Conference, sponsored by Chicago-Kent College of Law and the Malin Institute for Law & the Workplace, will be held in-person for the first time since 2019. Join us for our annual updates from both Illinois public sector labor boards, as well as a wide variety of plenary and breakout panels tackling topics such as incivility in the workplace, employee discipline, privacy issues, lessons learned from recent strikes, and many other issues facing labor lawyers and labor relations specialists in the industry today.
The conference will be held in person at Chicago-Kent College of Law and will not be available virtually. Individual conference sessions will be available via on-demand viewing 14-28 days after the conference date.
Robert E. Bloch is a partner at Dowd, Bloch, Bennett, Cervone, Auerbach & Yokich. After graduating from Northwestern University School of Law, he served as a Field Attorney for the National Labor Relations Board before entering private practice. Robert represents a broad array of private and public sector labor unions and has extensive experience in traditional labor law practice. Robert serves as General Counsel to several local unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union. Robert advises labor organizations on internal matters, has implemented and monitored union trusteeships, and supervises local and international union elections. He also advocates for unions on regulatory and legislative matters.
JILL LEKA is a strategic business partner helping employers solve their thorniest labor and employment law issues. Jill focuses on traditional labor matters as well as those involving employment litigation and the public (including educational) sector. In that role, she also proactively counsels public, not for profit and private sector clients to position them for success. She represents employers in grievance and interest arbitrations, unfair labor practices and Union representation proceedings, disciplinary, pension/PEDA/PSEBA, constitutional and discrimination litigation, as well as conducts complex investigations. Jill has successfully negotiated hundreds of collective bargaining agreements. Jill also advises not for profits and educational institutions, including institutions of higher learning in all legal matters, including serving as General Counsel and all issues associated therewith. Prior to starting CBS LLP with her colleagues, she practiced at Seyfarth Shaw LLP from 1993 until 2010, where her legal focus closely resembled that at CBS LLP.
From 1988 to 1993, Jill served as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Springfield, Illinois. As Assistant Corporation Counsel, Jill represented and advised City of Springfield officials on all aspects of municipal, labor, employment, law enforcement, discipline, discrimination and benefit issues. She also represented the City in grievance arbitration, interest arbitration, labor board and disciplinary proceedings and state and federal court litigation. In addition, Jill negotiated all the City’s collective bargaining agreements (29) covering over a thousand employees, including agreements for police, fire, clerical, professional, and maintenance and craft employees.
In 1987 and 1988, Jill was Labor Relations Counsel for the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services. In that capacity, she participated in collective bargaining negotiations for contracts covering 40,000 employees on behalf of the State of Illinois, represented state agencies in arbitration and labor board proceedings and advised state agencies on disciplinary matters, contract administration and other employment-related issues.
Jill currently serves as General Counsel for the National Public Employer Labor Relations Association and as a member of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Human and Civil Rights and ADR Committees. She is a past chair of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), and previously served on the ISBA Employee Benefits Council, the Professional Women’s Council, and as President of the Central Illinois Women’s Bar Association. Jill also served as the Chairperson of the City of Springfield Liquor Commission. In addition, Jill is an author of “Much Smarter Bargaining” (NPELRA 2017), “Freedom of Speech in the Public Workplace” (CABA 1998), “Illinois Statutes Affecting Public Employee Relations” (IPELRA 1995), and “Survey of Employment Law” (1993 Southern Illinois University Law Journal). She has conducted numerous training programs on a variety of subjects and is a frequent speaker on various labor and employment topics.
Dr. Ryan Martin researches and writes on healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger. His book, Why We Get Mad: How to Use Your Anger for Positive Change, explores why people become angry, some of the common consequences of anger, and how people can use their anger in productive ways. Ryan also hosts the popular psychology podcast, Psychology and Stuff. He was trained as a counseling psychologist at the University of Southern Mississippi where he first started studying anger after earning his undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from the University of St. Thomas. He has worked with clients- angry and otherwise- in a variety of settings including community mental health centers, college counseling centers, and a VA Hospital.
He is a Professor of Psychology and an Associate Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. His work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR’s Invisibilia podcast, BBC Radio’s Digital Human, TED.com, and elsewhere. When he’s not thinking about feelings, he runs and spends time with his family.
Carolyn Welch Clifford has devoted her legal career to the representation of local governments in Illinois with a special emphasis on legal issues involving the fire service. In her practice, Ms. Clifford represents public pension funds, fire and police commissions, and fire protection districts. In her practice, Ms. Clifford is actively involved in legal issues regarding the management of public pension funds. Ms. Clifford has extensive experience in handling disability pension matters from the initial hearing stage to appellate review. Her experience with employment matters from the initial hiring stage through disability and retirement provides her a unique perspective in advising clients. Ms. Clifford has handled a number of appellate cases and argued before the Illinois Appellate Court. Ms. Clifford regularly contributes articles to several publications and currently serves as the convener of the Public Safety Affinity Group for the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys (NAPPA). Ms. Clifford received her J.D. from the University of Illinois.
Ben Gehrt focuses his practice on traditional labor law and employment litigation. He has experience in grievance and interest arbitration cases, contract negotiations, and unfair labor practice charges. Ben also represents clients in EEO and wage-hour litigation. Prior to practicing law, Ben worked as a Plant Manager for a food manufacturing company in suburban Chicago. His experience as a supervisor and a manager gives him a unique perspective that helps him relate to the day-to-day challenges our clients face while managing people.
Ben has represented public and private sector clients in contract negotiations and interest arbitration. In those settings, he has helped clients obtain significant cost savings through changes in staffing levels, wage schedules, retiree insurance benefits, sick leave buyback benefits, and work rule changes, among other things.
Ben is also an experienced litigator. In addition to representing clients in grievance arbitration proceedings, Ben has also litigated cases in the state and federal trial courts. His litigation experience includes cases involving allegations of discrimination, employment cases alleging deprivation of constitutional rights, wage-hour disputes, and disputes over employee benefits under both ERISA and Illinois state law. In addition to his trial court experience, Ben has successfully represented clients in the state and federal courts of appeal.
Additionally, Ben has developed a niche practice at Clark Baird Smith LLP, counseling the firm’s clients on a wide variety of wage and hour issues under both state and federal law. In addition to handling the traditional wage payment questions that arise with private sector businesses, Ben is skilled at answering questions that are unique to the public sector, such as questions about compensatory time, 7(k) work periods, pay for canine handlers, and duty shift trades, to name a few.
Ben has been selected as a Leading Lawyer and an Illinois Super Lawyer.
Ben has also authored and contributed to numerous books and articles regarding labor and employment law. He is a co-editor and chapter author for Much Smarter Bargaining. He has also authored contributions to the NPELRA Legal Corner, The Developing Labor Law (BNA), How To Take A Case Before The NLRB (8th Ed. BNA), and a chapter in the Municipal Law Deskbook (ABA 2015) published by the American Bar Association’s Section on State and Local Government Law.
In addition to his practice, Ben volunteers as a judge and advisory board member for the NICASA Teen Court.
Jerry Marzullo is a shareholder with the firm and also serves as one of the Deputy General Counsel for the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association. Jerry concentrates his practice in the area of public sector labor and employment law (where he represents both State and Federal Sector Unions) as well as public and private sector pension law and retirement systems. He has successfully represented clients in both pension and labor matters including collective bargaining, discipline, arbitrations, pension hearings (representing Pension Boards), administrative review and declaratory judgment proceedings on Administrative, State and Federal Levels. He has argued on behalf of clients in the Circuit and Appellate Courts in Illinois and before the Illinois Supreme Court. He has also represented numerous clients in Federal Court. Jerry has considerable experience in both litigation and appellate work with numerous reported, and Rule 23, decisions. Jerry is also a former Cook County Assistant State's Attorney.
Jerry received his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law and his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a dual concentration in Strategic Management and Managerial and Organizational Behavior.
Jerry is licensed to practice law in Illinois at the State and Federal levels. He is affiliated with the Illinois State Bar Association and serves as an Advisory Committee Member for the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Law Conference.
He has previously taught both undergraduate and Master’s Degree courses in various topics at the University level on both labor and other law topics. Jerry has been a frequent speaker on both labor and pension related issues for the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the Associated Firefighters of Illinois, the Illinois Professional Firefighters Association, the Illinois Government Finance Officers Association and the Chicago-Kent Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Conference. Jerry has authored legal articles for publication including, most recently, the Illinois Public Employee Relations Report (A Statement of Facts: The Reality of Public Safety Employee Pension Funds in the State of Illinois; Vol. 37 No. 3; Possible Wisdom and Wit regarding the Arbitration of Discipline; Vol. 39 No. 3). He has also helped train command staff police officers and firefighters at the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy (NIPSTA).
Jerry is a City of Berwyn Battalion Chief (IAFF-AFFI Local 506) where he currently has 23 years of creditable service and is former President of the City of Berwyn Firefighter's Pension Fund and former Vice-President of IAFF-AFFI Local 506. He is a Certified Fire and Arson Investigator, Advanced Technician Firefighter and Chief Fire Officer.
Finally, and most importantly, he is happily married to one of Chicago's finest Police Lieutenants and has two evil pugs that he barely restrains from taking over the world.
Chuck is President of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois. He has served in that role since January of 2020. The AFFI represents over 15,000 firefighters and paramedics in 225 locals across the state.
Prior to becoming the President, he served as the AFFI Central District Legislative Representative from 2008-2020. During that time, he worked extensively on legislation and rules within Article 4 of the Illinois Pension Statute that affects Downstate and Suburban Firefighters. Chuck Sullivan was appointed to the Firefighters’ Pension Investment Fund Board on January 31, 2020. Chuck has served as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees since the Board’s inception.
Chuck has an Associate’s degree in Fire Science and a Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University. He was a firefighter with the City of Champaign from 1995 until his retirement in March of 2022 at the rank of Battalion Chief. In addition he is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and served in Desert Storm.
Christine G. Christensen is an Associate at Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk & Miller, Ltd. She obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois (2015). During law school, Christine served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Law, Technology, and Policy and the President of the Education Law and Policy Society. She also worked as a legal fellow and law clerk at the University of Illinois Office of University Counsel.
David Amerson is a staff attorney with the Police Benevolent Labor Committee. David is also the Chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section Council, and is an adjunct faculty member with the University of Illinois’ Labor Education Program. Previously, David was the coordinator of AFSCME Retirees - Chapter 31, and Executive Vice-President of the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans. He has also represented federal workers in the legal department of the AFGE, and as a legal advisor to the Graduate Employee Organization (IFT-AFT). Additionally, David provides legal counsel to a number of national non-profits. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois- College of Law and is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
Tamara Cummings serves as General Counsel to the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, a large public sector union representing law enforcement bargaining units. She has held that position since January, 2010. She has worked as an attorney for the Labor Council since 2003, and in this capacity she has represented law enforcement officers and civilian employees in all areas of labor and employment relations. She has acted as lead counsel in contract negotiations, grievance arbitrations, interest arbitrations, discipline hearings and various court cases in circuit and appellate courts throughout the State of
Yvette Heintzelman represents public sector employers in state and federal litigation, and in grievance arbitrations, and administrative proceedings before various state and local agencies.
Her experience in disability matters includes analysis of the intersection between FMLA, ADA and workers compensation as well as analysis and defense of municipal decisions under public safety pension statutes, the Public Employee Safety Benefit Protection Act and the Public Employee Disability Act.
Yvette defends employers against discrimination claims filed under Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, wrongful discharge, and various other employment related claims. She has extensive experience defending employers against claims filed by the EEOC as well as in multi-party employment litigation
Yvette also provides advice and counsel to employers on personnel and liability issues. She assists municipal employers on complicated public safety personnel matters and provides training on investigation of internal complaints, development of policies and procedures and compliance with applicable law. She routinely presents for professional organizations such as the Northwest Police Academy, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Municipal League, Illinois Public Employer Labor Relations Association and the International Association of Police Chiefs.
Public and private sector employers rely on Yvette to help them address labor and employment issues and avoid litigation through a proactive approach to responding and resolving various employment problems. She works with her clients to navigate labor relations issues, establish human resources policies and procedures necessary to comply with constantly evolving labor and employment law while supporting operations.
Kelly has a well-rounded background in Labor and Employment Law and frequently assists clients with their traditional labor issues. Kelly also advises and represents clients on a variety of other employee issues including disability pension matters and Public Employee Safety Benefit Protection Act, as well as issues regarding Title VII, the ADA, and the FMLA.
Kimberly Stevens is the Executive Director of the Illinois Labor Relations Board. Prior to her current position with the Labor Board, Ms. Stevens was most recently Deputy General Counsel at the Illinois State Board of Education. Ms. Stevens has also worked for the Illinois Labor Relations Board as an Administrative Law Judge, and she previously served as labor relations counsel for the Department of Central Management Services, representing the State of Illinois in contract negotiations, arbitration hearings, and cases before the ILRB. Ms. Stevens began her legal career at the Illinois Attorney General’s office in the civil trials bureau, where she was responsible for government defense litigation in State and federal courts as well as administrative matters before State merit boards and commissions. Ms. Stevens received her Bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in history, political science, and humanities from Valparaiso University and her Juris Doctor degree magna cum laude from the Valparaiso University School of Law.
John Weathers is Commissioner of Mediation in the Peoria, Illinois field service area of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). Mr. Weathers joined the FMCS in 2016 after working as labor counsel for the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council (ILFOPLC) in Springfield, IL for over six years. While with the ILFOPLC he negotiated and administered numerous collective bargaining agreements, presented cases in grievance and interest arbitration, and handled various court and labor board issues. Prior to his employment with the ILFOPLC, Mr. Weathers worked for the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) for nearly four years. His duties at CMS included grievance arbitration, unfair labor practices charges filed against state employees and agencies and negotiation of collective bargaining agreements.. Prior to practicing labor law Mr. Weathers was an State of Illinois Assistant Attorney General focused on defending the State in Federal and State Courts against various constitutional claims. Mr. Weathers received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Illinois and his law degree from the Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
James Daniels is the Deputy General Counsel of CMS Labor Relations for the State of Illinois. He is involved in all aspects of litigating and resolving grievances, ULPs, and petitions arising out of the fifty agencies under the Governor’s Office. Before working for CMS, James worked for over a decade as a staff attorney with the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, where he negotiated collective bargaining agreements and arbitrated contract violations for law enforcement units all over the State. He lives in Springfield, where he runs a theater organization called White Horse Players. He graduated from John Marshall law School in Chicago in 2005.
Stephen A. Yokich graduated from Northwestern University in 1978 and cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981. He clerked for the Honorable George Clifton Edwards, the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 1981 to 1982. Stephen served as the General Counsel for Labor for the Education and Labor Committee of the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 1994 and as Associate General Counsel for the International Union, UAW in the UAW’s Washington D.C. office from 1995 to 1998. He was a part-time Associate General Counsel for the UAW from 2001 to 2016.
Stephen practiced at the union-side labor law firm of Cornfield and Feldman from 1982 to 1992 and from 1998 to 2015. He has practiced at the union-side labor law firm of Dowd, Bloch, Bennett, Cervone, Auerbach & Yokich since 2015.
Stephen represents private and public sector labor unions in cases before state and federal labor relations boards and in state and federal trial and appellate courts. This representation encompasses representation petitions, unfair labor practice charges, the enforcement of union contracts and the defense of cases involving allegations of discrimination, breach of the duty of fair representation and state law torts. He represents unions and their members in cases involving occupational safety and health, including cases with the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and State plan occupational safety and health agencies . He also represents individuals and classes of individuals in suits under the civil rights acts, in suits involving the wage and hour laws and in suits involving retiree health and pension benefits.
Stephen is admitted to the bar of the State of Illinois and to the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of Illinois and the Northern District of Indiana. He is also admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court and to the United State Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and the Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Circuits.
Ellen is a Senior Labor Relations Counsel with CMS and she joined the team in June 2019 as an Assistant Labor Counsel. She represents the State of Illinois in grievance arbitrations and in Illinois Labor Relations Board hearings.
Prior to that, Ellen served as a Supervising Administrative Law Judge with the Department of Human Services, adjudicating benefit disputes primarily involving long term care issues.
Before joining the State of Illinois, Ellen was a civil litigator in private practice representing mortgage lenders.
Ellen is a mentor and volunteer with Students Run Chicago, a running mentorship program for Chicago area high school students.
Ellen received a B.S. in Political Science from Arizona State University in 2008 and a J.D. from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles in 2012.
Commissioner Timothy P. Healy; assigned to the Chicago field office of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), assists parties in the private, public and federal sectors in contract negotiation, grievance mediation and in resolving workplace disputes. He also provides labor and management advocate training in collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance processing; steward/supervisor training; labor management committee structure and processes; problem solving; communication and decision making.
Prior to joining FMCS, Tim worked as a Vice President of SEIU Local 1, Firemen and Oilers Division. In this capacity he was responsible for contract negotiations, advocacy, grievance and arbitration work. Tim worked with both public and private sector employers across a five state area in the Midwest. In addition to this contract administration work, he served as Union Trustee on two Taft Hartley Pension Funds and a Health and Welfare plan.
Tim also served on a number of union coalitions and was the spokesperson and lead negotiator for the State of Illinois’ Coalition of Unionized Trade Organizations.
Throughout his career Tim had a strong focus on problem solving and advocacy for the members he had the honor of serving. Tim started as a member of Local 7, Firemen & Oilers at the County of Cook Hospital in 1982 then moved to Business Representative in October 1995. In 2006, he was elected President of the local until fully merging with SEIU Local 1 as V.P. of the F&O Division in August 2011, until such time as he accepted his appointment as Commissioner of the FMCS in February 2017.
Tim holds a B.S in Communications from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, Illinois.
Stephen George is a Commissioner with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service based in Hinsdale, Illinois, servicing the city of Chicago and multiple surrounding counties in Illinois.
Commissioner George has worked out of the Hinsdale Field office since 2017 as part of a team of Mediators who work in one of the busiest and most diverse labor markets in the country. Steve brings to the FMCS over 20 years of conflict resolution experience in all aspects and styles of collective bargaining including Traditional, Collaborative, and Modified models.
Additionally, Steve possesses extensive experience in developing and delivering Leadership training programs, designing/facilitating Labor/Management Committees, Complaint/Resolution, including Grievance Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution programs.
Since joining the FMCS, Commissioner George has mediated labor contracts in all sectors of employment and in a vast array of industries. He has developed and led training programs for employers and unions across the Chicagoland area. Steve is recognized by all parties as an engaged Mediator and experienced problem solver.
Commissioner George enjoys his second home in Chicago, Illinois, and maintains a home in Rochester, New York.
Michelle Owen has been an administrative law judge with the Illinois Labor Relations Board since 2018. She also worked as an administrative law judge with the Board from 2010 to 2014. Ms. Owen has also worked as an attorney for multiple private law firms representing both public sector and private sector unions, public and private sector employers, and individual employees. Ms. Owen has served as a volunteer attorney for the State of Illinois Executive Clemency Project, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, Chicago Cares, and the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program. After graduating from law school, she was awarded a fellowship with the Champaign County State’s Attorney where she worked on labor matters for the county. During law school, Ms. Owen was awarded a Peggy Browning Fund Fellowship, participated in the AFL-CIO Law Student Union Summer program, and externed for the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court. During law school, Ms. Owen was a board member and grievance officer for a union representing teaching assistants and graduate assistants at the University of Illinois. Ms. Owen earned both a law degree cum laude and a master’s degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010.
Carlos Arévalo is a partner at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. with over 20 years of experience. He represents public and private sector clients in the areas of labor and employment law and local government law. Carlos advocates for his clients in state and federal courts, in administrative agencies and in arbitration and collective bargaining proceedings. Carlos has been active in leadership for the Illinois State Bar Association Local Government Law and Labor & Employment Law Section Councils having served a past chair in both. He sits on the board of directors for the Friends of McHenry County College Foundation, the Regional Board of Mercyhealth System and is a Past-President of Stateline SHRM in McHenry County. He has also served in the Legislative Committee for IPELRA and is a member of the Leadership Greater McHenry County Class of 2013. Carlos frequently speaks on labor and employment issues at the state and local level and is honored and pleased to once again serve as a panelist at the Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Law Conference at Chicago-Kent.
Latoyia Kimbrough is one of three in-house attorneys for the Chicago Teachers Union, representing over 28,000 members in the third largest school district in the nation. She joined the CTU in September 2015. Ms. Kimbrough represents CTU members in discipline Mediation/Arbitration, Grievance Arbitration, Labor Board proceedings, and due process Dismissal Hearings. Ms. Kimbrough is a graduate of Englewood High School, a Chicago Public School. Prior to working for CTU, she assisted in organizing CTU and community members around educational issues. Ms. Kimbrough earned her BA in Political Science from North Central College and her JD from Northern Illinois College of Law, where she graduated Cum Laude.
Lynn Himes’ experience as a management labor and employment lawyer began when he left the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) and joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Braude, Marguiles. His clients were construction contractors, architects and surety bond companies. In 1979, Lynn moved to Chicago and joined the law firm of Brydges, Riseborough, Morris, Franke and Miller, where he became a partner and practiced labor, employment, construction and school law. He joined Himes, Petrarca & Fester in 1986 as an equity partner. Lynn represents Boards of Education and other units of local government. He has negotiated hundreds of collective bargaining agreements and he has handled countless grievance arbitrations and unfair labor practice charges before the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board and the Illinois Labor Relations Board. He devotes substantial time to defending employers against claims of employment discrimination. He also has a breadth of experience handling school law matters including construction issues, student issues and detachment/annexation hearings. Lynn has completed the IEA Interest Based Bargaining training, its training as an IBB facilitator and its Trainer of Trainers coursework. He has also completed the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service’s IBB training. Lynn regularly represents school boards using IBB and often serves in the dual role as the facilitator and the board’s legal representative. Lynn is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of School Attorneys. He is a past Chairman of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys and a past member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board’s Advisory Committee and the Board of Advisors for the Chicago Kent Law School Public Sector Labor Relations Annual Conference. Lynn also serves on the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, Committee on Legal Practices. A native of North Carolina, Lynn attended Davidson College, North Carolina on ROTC and football scholarships. Thereafter, he received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina, School of Law. Lynn served as a captain in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and ultimately served as a Senior Trial attorney for the Department of the Army. In addition to the law degree, he received from the University of North Carolina School of Law, Lynn also received his Masters of Laws and Letters in Labor Law from Georgetown University. Lynn has been selected by his peers as a Martindale Hubbel AV Preeminent attorney and, also, selected to the Super Lawyers of Illinois, the Leading Lawyers of Illinois, and the Top Lawyers of Chicago.
Heidi Karr Sleper is the co-founder of Kurtz, Sleper & Exline, LLC in Wheaton. Heidi has worked for almost twenty years in private practice as an advocate for employees' rights in the workplace as well as representing the employment related needs of small businesses.
Heidi specializes in representing public employees working at municipal, county, and State levels of government.
Heidi has successfully represented clients in negotiations, agency proceedings, and trial involving claims of sexual harassment, retaliation, and discrimination, FMLA claims, retaliatory discharge and whistleblower claims, First Amendment retaliation, and defamation. Heidi has also argued successfully before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Heidi’s extensive litigation experience encompasses being a part of a trial team winning significant verdicts including the trial of Lewis v. Country Club Hills, in which the jury awarded Ms. Lewis, a female firefighter, $11.2 million in her sexual harassment case, and Burruss v. Cook County Sheriff, et al. in which the firm obtained a verdict for 21 Cook County Correctional Officers in the amount of $1,600,000 for political retaliation and discharge. Heidi has also negotiated sizeable settlements on behalf of firefighters across the Midwest for sexual harassment and discrimination; on behalf of a police officer for First Amendment Retaliation based on concerted activity and speech as President of the local FOP chapter; and on behalf of teachers and school administrators for breach of contract and retaliatory discharge.
Heidi received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska College of Law during which she was honored as being the top of her class in Native American Law. Heidi was also involved in the Women’s Law Caucus, Equal Justice Society, Alternative Dispute Resolution organization, and the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys/American Association for Justice. Heidi received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in English also from the University of Nebraska.
Heidi is admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
Heidi is a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association - Illinois chapter and the DuPage Bar Association and is past-Chair of the DuPage Bar Association Labor & Employment Committee.
James is a Business Representative for LIUNA Local 4 and has been practicing union-side labor and employee benefits law since he graduated in 2017 from Chicago-Kent’s Martin H. Malin Institute for Law in the Workplace. He previously worked for IUOE Local 150 as Associate General Counsel where he assisted Marc Poulos’s III-FFC in drafting the Workers’ Rights Amendment.
Robb B. Craddock currently serves as Senior Director of Labor and Employee Relations – Illinois Human Resources for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the University, Mr. Craddock serves as chief spokesperson and is responsible for the administration of twenty (20) different labor agreements covering university employees. Mr. Craddock represents the University’s Chancellor in grievance matters. Prior to working for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Robb Craddock served as the Deputy Director of Labor Relations for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services from September 2008 through January 2015. In that role, he successfully handled labor relations matters on behalf of the Office of the Governor. Mr. Craddock represented the largest employer in the State of Illinois. His tenure as the State of Illinois’ chief labor negotiator exposed him to multiple labor unions including American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Service Employees International Union, Teamsters and various trade unions. In 2019, Robb Craddock returned to Illinois Department of Central Management Services in conjunction with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to serve as Chief Labor Relations Negotiator and Executive Branch Labor Relations Advisor. While in that capacity, he successfully negotiated an agreement with AFSCME Council 31; ending a four (4) year labor dispute. In October 2013, Mr. Craddock accepted on behalf of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services the James Baird Leadership Award for 2013 presented by the Illinois Public Employer Labor Relations Association (IPELRA). This annual award recognizes leadership and achievement in Illinois public sector labor relations. Robb is an at-Large Member of the IPELRA Board of Directors, and a member of the Legislative Advocacy Committee. Mr. Craddock received his Master of Public Administration with a graduate certification in Public Sector Labor Relations from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Mr. Craddock received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Western Illinois University.
Thomas M. Melody graduated from Loyola University of Chicago in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University School of Law in 1994.
Mr. Melody is an equity shareholder in the law firm of Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd., and his experience includes the general practice of school and municipal law, with a focus on labor and employment law. He has negotiated many collective bargaining agreements, and represents employers in all facets of labor and employment law, including contract administration, grievance arbitration, and statutory compliance. Mr. Melody has represented numerous public sector employers in both State and federal courts, as well as before State and federal administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the Illinois Labor Relations Board, and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. He has also handled numerous matters before local Civil Service Commissions and Fire and Police Commissions.
Mr. Melody is the co-author of the “Formal Dismissal and Suspension Procedures Under Illinois Tenure Law,” Illinois School Law, IICLE, and he is also one of the authors of the “Handbook on Practice and Procedure in Police and Fire Disciplinary Matters”, and “Home Rule vs. Non-Home Rule (What’s Best For Your Municipality?)”, both of which were published by the Illinois Municipal League. Mr. Melody has also written numerous articles on school law and labor law issues.
Mr. Melody is a frequent speaker on labor and employment law issues, as well as school and municipal law issues. Mr. Melody’s most recent presentations include “9-1-1 Dispatch System Consolidation” at the 2016 IML Conference, “Employee Use of Social Media” at the Will County Police Chiefs Annual Conference and “Negotiating Through a Public Safety Consolidation” at the 2016 IPELRA Conference. In addition, Mr. Melody has provided seminars on municipal labor law for the Illinois Metro Managers Association, the Illinois Municipal League, Chicago Kent Annual Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Law Conference and Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies.
Gary Bailey has served as a labor attorney for the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council for over 25 years. He is involved in negotiations, grievance arbitrations and interest arbitrations on behalf of sworn peace officers and law enforcement personnel across the State of Illinois. Mr. Bailey is an active member of the American Bar Association’s Section of Labor and Employment Law and was elected in 2017 to the Section Council, which serves as the governing board. He served as Co-Chairman of the State and Local Government Bargaining and Employment Law Committee from 2009-2012 and presently serves as Union Co-Chair for the Sub-Committee on Interest Arbitration. Mr. Bailey received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and his Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he is a member of the Senior Partner Council. He was inducted as a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers in 2008.
Michael K. Durkin is a founding partner of the law firm of Storino, Ramello & Durkin, and has been in practice since 1978. Mr. Durkin represents a wide variety of public sector management clients, in the capacity of both corporate counsel and special counsel with respect to a wide variety of collective bargaining and employment law matters. Mr. Durkin is listed as a Leading Lawyer and by Super Lawyers in Illinois. Mr. Durkin received his B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Peter R. Meyers was born and raised in the City of Chicago and attended the Chicago Public Schools. He received a B.A. with Distinction from the University of Michigan, as well as an M.A. from Northwestern University and a J.D. from the Northwestern University School of Law.
Mr. Meyers has been practicing law in the City of Chicago since 1974 and began his arbitration practice in 1978. He currently arbitrates and mediates throughout the United States in both the public and private sectors. He has served as Arbitrator and Mediator in numerous interest arbitration matters and is currently listed on the interest arbitration panels of the state of Illinois.
Mr. Meyers was elected to serve as Alderman of the City of Evanston, Illinois, from 1975 to 1979. He is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators and is a Distinguished Fellow in the International Academy of Mediators. In 2005, he was elected as a Fellow to the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Mr. Meyers continues to serve on the American Bar Association’s Section of Labor and Employment Law, State and Local Government Bargaining and Employment Law Committee and served as its Neutral Chairman for several years.
William F. Gleason is a founding member and partner with the law firm of Petrarca, Gleason, Boyle & Izzo, LLC. He earned his Juris Doctorate from IIT-Chicago Kent Collee of Law and was an inaugural member of the Honors Law Program. During law school he worked in the school’s in-house law clinic.
Mr. Gleason concentrates his practice in the general representation of school and municipal clients. In representing these entities, he routinely counsels clients on employee rights and benefits, student rights/discipline, Open Meetings Act and FOIA compliance. He also advises clients through the collective bargaining process and has negotiated with various groups of employees for both schools and municipal clients.
In addition to these practice areas, he also regularly represents clients in various litigation matters and through all phases of litigation including trial and appeal. He has also represented numerous clients before the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. His experience includes cases involving sexual assault, premises liability, student discipline, student residency, improper non-renewals under the School Code, Title VI, Title VII, Title IX, ADEA, ADA, equal protection, due process, willful and wanton supervision, First Amendment claims, conspiracy claims, retaliation claims, excessive force, unlawful search and seizure, the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, construction disputes, breach of contract claims and tenured teacher dismissal cases.
Christopher Hoffmann is the Chair of the Labor & Personnel Practice Group at Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn LLP. He has significant experience advising employers, human resource professionals, and school leaders to help them navigate the myriad of day-to-day employment challenges. Chris has successfully defended employers in cases involving discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and other traditional labor law and union/management issues at both the federal and state court level. Employers turn to Chris for his insights and experience in labor and employee relations issues such as: FMLA, FLSA, ADA accommodation, workplace violence and harassment, performance evaluations, and employee discipline.
While in law school at Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chris was a judicial extern to the Honorable Allen S. Goldberg of the Circuit Court of Cook County, IL, and a legal extern with the Illinois Human Rights Commission. Chris served in the United States Marine Corps for four years, and as a Sergeant he led engineering and utility projects while aiding humanitarian relief efforts in Africa and southeast Asia.
I graduated from Loyola University of Chicago and the John Marshall Law School. I have practiced union side labor and employment law since 1983. Since 1991 I have represented educational employees with the Illinois Education Association. I formally retired from the IEA in 2022 and have remained active in the practice. I currently serve as CLE Coordinator for the Education Law Section of the Illinois State Bar Association.
Bryan Diemer is an attorney with the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, AFL-CIO. Bryan received a law degree with honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law, as well as a master’s degree in labor and industrial relations and a bachelor’s degree in economics-- both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Throughout his career, he has represented labor unions and related Taft-Hartley benefit funds in federal and state court, as well as administrative agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board and the Illinois Labor Relations Board. Bryan has also negotiated many public and private sector collective bargaining agreements and arbitrated many grievances arising under those collective bargaining agreements.
Nicole Buonocore Porter is a Professor of Law and Director of the Martin H. Malin Institute for Law and the Workplace. Before joining Chicago-Kent in 2022, she was a Distinguished University Professor; Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development; and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Toledo College of Law. She has also taught at Saint Louis University School of Law, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and the University of Iowa College of Law.
Porter is a nationally-known expert in employment discrimination and disability law. She is the author or co-author of four books and over 40 law review articles and essays. Her scholarship focuses primarily on the employment rights of women and people with disabilities.
Professor Porter earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was a member of the Order of the Coif and the Editor-in-Chief of the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform. After law school, Professor Porter was in-house counsel for a manufacturing company and practiced employment law in a large law firm in Detroit. She also clerked for the Honorable James L. Ryan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Karl R. Ottosen is Managing Partner and Shareholder of Ottosen DiNolfo Hasenbalg & Castaldo, Ltd. Hehas over 28 years of experience representing governmental bodies, private corporations, and individuals in a variety of labor and employment law issues. Mr. Ottosen frequently negotiates contracts with unions representing bargaining units in law enforcement, fire protection, education, public works, and other public services, as well as with private sector manufacturing units. Mr. Ottosen is regularly selected to speak at seminars and workshops on labor, employment, and local government law issues. His topics include issues in finance, litigation, anti-discrimination compliance, supervisor training, sexual harassment, violence in the workplace, and other general labor and employment concerns. He received a B.S. from Western Illinois University and a J.D. from University of Illinois College of Law.
Chelsy Castro, JD, MA, AM, LCSW
Chelsy Castro is CEO and Founder of Castro Jacobs Psychotherapy and Consulting (CJPC), a firm specializing in lawyer well-being. An attorney turned psychotherapist and performance strategist, Chelsy counsels individuals and the organizations they work for on how to achieve their goals in healthy and productive ways. Chelsy’s publications and trainings focus on science-based skills and strategies for improving performance and increasing well-being in high-pressure professions. After practicing law as a multilingual attorney in the field of international regulatory compliance, Chelsy later earned her clinical degree at the University of Chicago and shifted her focus to lawyer well-being. Prior to launching CJPC, Chelsy designed, developed, and managed clinical programs for the legal profession, and provided evidence-based psychotherapy and training for lawyers, judges, and law students.
Ms. VanDagens is a frequent lecturer and trainer in labor and employment law. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and a B.A. in Journalism from Michigan State University. Before beginning her career as a labor neutral,
Tom counsels employers in all aspects of labor and employment law, including internal misconduct investigations, disciplinary action, labor relations, collective bargaining, and federal and state employment discrimination matters under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Illinois Human Rights Act, Title VII, and other federal and state anti-discrimination and wage laws. Tom represents employers in a variety of venues, including federal/state courts, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, and federal/state labor boards.
Prior to joining Robbins Schwartz, Tom worked in Labor Relations for the Cook County Health System. During law school, Tom interned with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Enforcement Unit.
Mark joined Laner Muchin in 1997 as an associate and has been a partner at the Firm since 2003. He regularly negotiates collective bargaining agreements on behalf of employers for bargaining units ranging from four (4) to approximately 37,000 employees. Mark also regularly represents employers in Union election and representation cases and unfair labor practice cases before the National Labor Relations Board, the Illinois Labor Relations Board, and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.
Mark also represents employers in charges of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Department of Human Rights. In addition, he provides advice to employers on nearly a daily basis on labor and employment law issues, as well as representing employers in labor matters before independent arbitrators.
Mark has taught courses on labor relations at Benedictine University, is a regular speaker on labor issues at the Chicago-Kent School of Law Public Sector Labor Law Forum, and has conducted seminars for management personnel on legal and practical employment relations matters. Mark also served as an Extern with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board handling traditional labor law issues while in law school.
Joel is one of the firm’s three senior managing shareholders and has been in practice since 1971. He has been with the firm for over 40 years and he has devoted his entire professional life to representing working people, both through union representation and as individual clients. Joel is also frequently consulted for his opinions concerning internal and administrative union affairs.
While he has represented clients from just about every segment of the private sector, much of his work has centered on the representation of union clients in the public sector, where Joel serves as counsel for many firefighter and police unions. He is considerably experienced in handling contract negotiations, grievance arbitrations and interest arbitrations. Further, he is extremely well-versed in all aspects of state labor law. In fact, he played an instrumental role in drafting the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, which is one of two state laws granting collective bargaining rights and labor protection to state and municipal employees throughout Illinois.
When Joel is not representing unions, he represents individual employees in the more traditional settings of employment discrimination, wage and hour litigation, and severance and contract negotiations. That said, Joel has a well-established record of success in pursuing what some may characterize as non-traditional, atypical and even novel claims on behalf of his individual clients. Regardless of the setting, however, Joel works tirelessly to advance the interests of working people.
Joel ranks among the most distinguished and respected labor attorneys in the country. That much is best demonstrated by his roles in two very important organizations: (1) the American Bar Association’s Section of Labor and Employment Law, and (2) the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Between August 2013 and August 2014, Joel served as the Chair of the ABA’s Section of Labor and Employment Law. In doing so, Joel travelled throughout the country and overseas in an effort to promote the Section’s agenda, which, at times, required his authorship concerning the Section’s policy recommendations directed to high-level officials in the U.S. Department of Labor and the White House. His rise to Section Chair represented the culmination of several decades of important volunteer work within the ABA’s Section of Labor and Employment Law and particularly, that Section’s Committee on State and Local Government Bargaining and Employment Law, where he served as the Union Co-chair from 1988 to 1994. Joel has played an active role in that Committee for over 35 years.
Joel’s involvement with the distinguished College of Labor and Employment Lawyers is not to be understated. The College is a non-profit professional association established for the purpose of honoring leading labor and employment lawyers throughout the United States and Canada. Its Fellows are elected by the College’s Board of Governors following an incredibly rigorous screening and peer review process. Fellows are recognized for professional achievements that represent the very highest level of expertise, integrity and leadership in the profession. Joel was elected as a Fellow to the College back in 1997 and in 2011, he served as the President of the College’s Board of Governors.
Joel has been recognized by his fellow attorneys in other capacities as well. He has been listed with Best Lawyers in America, and has been selected as a SuperLawyer from 2005 through 2014.
Joel is frequently called upon to share his expertise and knowledge with other labor and employment attorneys. He has spoken at countless labor and employment conferences at local, state and national levels throughout his more than 40 years as an attorney. In that capacity, he has either co-authored or authored numerous papers.
In his limited free time, Joel is an avid photographer. He has photographed many labor and political events over the years, including the 2008 and 2012 election night victory parties for President Barrack Obama.
Accomplished, executive-level leader with a diverse professional background that includes public service, entrepreneurialism, and 10 years of private sector legal experience, including a Partner role. Process-driven problem solver, highly skilled at leveraging legal expertise and negotiation skills to effect transformational change that embraces transparency, community impact and accountability. Litigator at heart with record of success applying the rule of law to find pioneering solutions that exceed organizational objectives. Thought partner who works well with executive management to move agendas forward. Licensures and certifications: State Bar of Illinois; and Loyola University of Chicago, School of Executive Education Project Management Certificate. Treasurer, Nehemiah Trinity Rising Board. Advanced expertise with: Compliant Procurement, DEI Strategies, Restorative Justice.
Sekile M. Nzinga PhD, MSW was appointed by Governor Pritzker as the inaugural Chief Equity Officer for the State of Illinois. Prior to joining state government, she was a senior administrator in higher education as the former interim Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Provost of Diversity and Inclusion as well as Women’s Center Director at Northwestern University. Nzinga also worked as a professor of Social Work and Women and Gender Studies for 18 years. Her engaged scholarship and teaching have centered on the intersections of race, class, and gender in reproduction and parenting; critical feminist university studies; family centered employment policy and reproductive justice. She is the author of Lean Semesters: How the University Reproduces Inequity (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020) and the editor of Laboring Positions: Black Women, Mothering and the Academy (Demeter, 2013). She is a former board chair and current volunteer of the Chicago Abortion Fund and serves on the boards of The Journal of Women Center’s in Higher Education and Radical Mamas. She was the 2020-21 Author in Residence at HigherEd Jobs and is the recipient of the 2019 Evanston-Northshore YWCA’s Women in Leadership Award.
Anger and hostility have undoubtedly been on the rise in recent years. This session will explore why people get angry, how it interferes in having meaningful and substantive interactions, and how to effectively deal with angry people in our lives.
Select which Concurrent Session you will attend below:
The firefighter forum will discuss labor relations developments specific to the fire and EMS profession over the last year. Topics covered will include:
The Panelists will provide an overview of provisions of the Act that will impact the workplace and/or the employment relationship. The topics of discussion will include: The Right to Negotiate Residency; Changes to the Body Worn Camera Act; Changes to UPODA; the Creation of New Affirmative Duties; The Felony of Law Enforcement Misconduct; the Discretionary Decertification Process and other changes to Certification; New Reporting Requirements; and Mental Health Screenings.
Comprised of representatives from the ILRB, FMCS, and private practice, this panel will focus on issues of civility, how these issues intertwine with ethics rules and responsibilities for both lawyers and practitioners, and how we can avoid and respond to incivility in the workplace. Attendees will have the opportunity to examine these issues through interactive engagement with the panel.
Select which Concurrent Session you will attend below:
The panel will provide a written summary of ILRB and court decisions issued in the past year concerning the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and will discuss several significant decisions.
Join experienced labor relations professionals as we embark on a lively mediation to attempt to resolve a sticky contract dispute. This will be an interactive presentation where we seek audience input and strategize on how best to bring the parties to agreement. Participants will learn to think outside the box and from a perspective that might be different from their experience.
This panel will focus on current trends/approaches to employee discipline and present real world hypotheticals on how discipline has been handled during the pandemic.
The presenter will be in-person in room C50 and live streamed into C40, C20, 740, and the Auditorium. Morris Hall and the 2nd Floor Cafeteria will be used for networking.
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The past few years have shown us that employers and unions have plenty to bargain about mid-term. Be it COVID policies, police bodycams, layoffs, or hazard pay; sometimes issues cannot wait until contract expiration. Our panel will discuss the distinctions between decisional and impact bargaining, when a union can demand impact bargaining, what an employer can and should do when the union demands it, and what happens if the parties cannot agree.
The panelists will review Illinois interest arbitration awards that have been issued in 2022 from the perspectives of the neutral arbitrator, the management attorney and the union attorney. The discussion will focus on those awards that featured topical bargaining subjects as well as provocative issues. The panelists will weigh in on the impact these awards may have on future interest arbitration strategies.
In the Recent Strikes session I plan to discuss matters leading up to strikes, current strike issues and the resolution of strikes. My comments are considered from the union side perspective.
This panel will discuss issues surrounding marijuana and other drug use and testing in the workplace. Topics will include: cannabis testing when required by law for certain industries and groups of employees; how to handle the conflict between Illinois DUI and DOT standards; and how to address issues surrounding drug abuse and/or addiction in light of applicable law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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Lawyers are a vulnerable population even when things are at their best. The increasing cultural
and political polarization in the United States has notably impacted mental health, increasing
our vulnerability to burnout, anxiety, and depression, causing ethical implications in the legal profession.
Participants in this program will learn:
Nuts & Bolts of Arbitration: Whether you’re new to arbitration or in need of a refresher, this session will provide practice pointers on how to effectively prepare and try an arbitration case.
Sekile Nzinga, Ph.D. and Kellye A. Keyes, Esq. hold inaugural DEIA leadership positions and are part of the Governor’s senior team dedicated to enhance equity and inclusion in state workforce, hiring, and procurement. Dr. Nzinga will provide an insightful discussion about best practices to implement and sustain Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility training and initiatives as well as navigating the current political landscape while advancing equity within state organizations. Kellye A. Keyes, Esq. will discuss the laws used by the Illinois Legislature and Governor to create the new Commission on Equity and Inclusion. She will also share the practices used to create pragmatic and sustainable change in the state’s procurement.