The CIR handles three types of cases:
When impasse is reached, one of the parties may request the CIR to establish wages and conditions of employment. If the parties agree the case may be bifurcated into two separate parts--Part 1 to determine the array and Part II to determine wages and conditions of employment, if necessary. To determine wages and conditions of employment, the CIR must take into consideration the overall compensation being received by the employees. This rule of overall compensation does not require an identity of benefits, but it does require that overall compensation be comparable to the prevalent wage rates paid and conditions of employment maintained for the same or similar work of workers exhibiting like or similar skills under the same or similar working conditions.
Both parties present evidence to the CIR on what they believe to be a comparable array. The CIR selects an array which it believes to be comparable and then sets wages and other conditions of employment based on the prevalent wages and conditions of employment of the selected array members. Two key objective factors used by the CIR to determine a comparable array are geographic proximity and size.
There are special impasse resolution procedures for State employees, as codified in Neb. Rev. Stat. §81-1369 to 81-1390 (SECBA).
A petition will be filed by a union, or occasionally a joint request by the employer and union, requesting a certification election which would enable the union to act as the sole bargaining representative of the employees. If they can show a 30% showing of interest among the employees, the CIR will hold a hearing to determine the appropriate bargaining unit, and then will conduct an election within that unit. Occasionally a decertification petition will be filed to attempt to remove a currently certified or recognized representative.
These petitions may request bargaining orders, charge that certain prohibited practices have occurred, request mediation or fact-finding, or address other similar issues.
The above procedures apply to all employees under the Commission's Industrial Relations Act.
State employees have a separate act, the State Employees Collective Bargaining Act (SECBA), passed in 1987. SECBA is deemed to be cumulative to the Industrial Relations Act, except when otherwise specifically provided or when inconsistent with the Industrial Relations Act, in which case the State Employees Collective Bargaining Act shall prevail. (See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-1372) SECBA defines the bargaining units in statute and requires that, in wage cases, the parties go through some other impasse resolution steps before coming to the Commission.
Procedures of the CIR
The Supreme Court has stated that the Commission is an administrative agency with quasi-judicial powers. Proceedings before the Commission must conform to the code of civil procedure applicable to the District Courts, unless modified either by Commission Rules or Statutes.
Once the Petitioner (either the employer, the employee or the employee's association or union) has filed a case with the CIR, a panel of three commissioners is assigned. The case is heard by one commissioner but must be decided by three. The Respondent has 20 days to answer. (Except in prohibited practice cases where they have only 10 days). Based upon the answer, the CIR may order a pretrial and/or a hearing. The purpose of the pretrial is to exchange exhibits, waive requirements of formal proof on undisputed documents, admit and agree upon undisputed facts, etc. so that the hearing can be conducted quickly and efficiently. A court reporter is present at the hearings. The decisions of the CIR are appealable directly to the Court of Appeals.
The CIR employees 5 part-time commissioners appointed for 6-year terms by the Governor with legislative approval. The commissioners pick one of their members to serve as presiding commissioner for a two-year term. The CIR also employs an administrator/clerk and a legal counsel/deputy clerk.