The Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR) has set trial dates for our remote work prohibited practices case. The CIR will hold a trial on February 26, 27, and 28 in the CIR Hearing Room at the Nebraska State Office Building (301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln) beginning at 9am each day.
On December 13, our union members filed a petition with the Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR) alleging that the State of Nebraska violated state law by refusing to negotiate over Executive Order 23-17 which would have effectively ended remote work for state employees on January 2, 2024. Additionally, union members filed a motion for temporary relief, asking the CIR to order the State to halt implementation of the Executive Order while the petition is pending.
On December 29, the CIR ruled in our favor by granting our union’s motion for temporary relief. The order effectively halts the implementation of the Executive Order for union members while our case is pending. The order states that the status quo must be maintained, where agencies operate under their remote work policies as they did just prior to the issuance of the Executive Order. A copy of the order can be viewed here.
Shortly after the order was issued, some state agencies began ignoring the CIR’s order and directed employees to return to state offices. On January 10, the CIR entered another order in our favor again stating no changes should be made to employees’ remote work status while our prohibited practices petition is pending trial at the CIR.
On January 19, NAPE/AFSCME appeared in District Court in Lancaster County to ask a judge to hold the State of Nebraska in contempt for violating the CIR’s order. NAPE/AFSCME asked the judge to order the state to follow the CIR’s order and to pay our legal fees for the contempt hearing. On February 5, the District Court entered an order dismissing our contempt petition. The judge found that while the State violated the spirit of the CIR’s order, the State reasonably misinterpreted the order. Following our hearing in the District Court, all state agencies have followed the CIR’s order.
The next step is for our prohibited practices case to go to trial before the CIR February 26-28. At trial, NAPE will present evidence that the State of Nebraska violated the State Employees Collective Bargaining Act by failing to negotiate over the terms and conditions of remote work assignments. After the trial, the CIR will take the matter under advisement and issue a decision.
If the CIR rules in our favor, the State of Nebraska will be required to negotiate the terms and conditions of remote work assignments. Our elected negotiations team would return to the bargaining table to do so. If the CIR rules in the state’s favor, the state would be allowed to unilaterally implement the Executive Order. Either party may appeal the CIR’s decision to the Nebraska Supreme Court.
Until the CIR issues a decision, remote work assignments will continue in accordance with the CIR’s order granting temporary relief. If you need assistance enforcing the order, please contact us. If you are not a union member, will you stand with us to protect state employee’s rights by joining us today?