6 CIR 233 (1982)


LOCALS 601, 671, 1188, 1459 AND 2504 | CASE NO. 473
Petitioners, |
v. | ORDER
Respondent. |


For the Petitioner: John B. Ashford

Bradford, Coenen & Ashford

300 South 19th Street

Omaha, Nebraska

For the Respondent: Lynne Fritz

Assistant Attorney General

2115 State Capitol

Lincoln, Nebraska

Before: Judges Kratz, Davis, and Orr.


On June 30, 1982, this Commission entered a temporary order which required that the existing wages and conditions of employment continue in effect pending final disposition of the case, and that Respondent, upon request, bargain collectively with the Petitioner with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. On July 12, 1982, a Motion to Vacate this order was filed by Respondent. This motion was heard on July 29, 1982. Evidence was adduced and arguments presented.

The facts are as follows: Pursuant to the reopening requirements of the collective bargaining agreement between the parties, on November 30, 1981, the Respondent mailed a letter to the Petitioner (Exhibit #1) requesting that the collective bargaining agreement be opened for "negotiations for the year 1982-83." The Petitioner did not request a reopening of the collective bargaining agreement.

Shortly thereafter (January, 1982), the 2nd half of the 87th Session of the Nebraska Legislature convened and a legislative bill was introduced authorizing a 10% wage increase for state employees, including employees of Respondent. Other legislative bills were introduced which would provide additional benefits for state employees, such as a shift differential and a paid sick leave. It is not clear from the evidence what happened to this proposed 10% increase, but apparently the legislature first reduced it to 5%, payable July 1, 1982, and then ultimately delayed its effective day until January 1, 1983.

In March, 1982, the Petitioner and the Respondent met in response to the November 30, 1981, letter requesting reopening of the collective bargaining agreement. At this meeting, the parties discussed several suggested language changes in the agreement. No monetary items were ever discussed or considered at this meeting, or at any other time. The parties finally agreed to extend the language of the contract, and to make some alterations in the grievance forms. These changes were submitted to the Legislature for approval (Legislative Resolution 381). Representatives of both the Petitioner and the Respondent argued in behalf of Legislative Resolution 381 when it was presented to the Legislature's Business and Labor Committee. It was approved by the Legislature on April 16, 1982. 1 1982 Legislative Journal , p. 2023.

Therefore, representatives of the Petitioner requested a meeting with Respondent for the purpose of executing the new contract. In response to this request, the new agreement was reduced to writing and was scheduled to be executed on May 3, 1982. On the morning of May 3, 1982, Petitioner's representative contacted a representative of Respondent and advised that the Petitioner had now decided not to sign the agreement. The reason for this refusal concerned certain language in Article XXII of the agreement. The Petitioner wanted several words stricken from this section because of legal advice to the effect that these few words could foreclose any possibility of a wage increase on July 1, 1982.

After Petitioner refused to sign the agreement, a Respondent representative told a representative of Petitioner that if the contract was not signed by June 30, there would be no contract. There were indications also that Respondent, under this circumstance, might change some of the working conditions of the employees.

After reviewing the additional evidence submitted at the July 29 hearing, we conclude that the parties reached agreement on a new contract at their March meeting and that this agreement, which has been reduced to writing, should now be executed by the parties. This is based on the fact that both parties agree they reached agreement at this meeting, both parties submitted the content of that agreement to the Legislature for approval, and both parties agreed, at the Petitioner's request, to meet on May 3 for the purpose of signing said agreement. Section 48-8169(1), R.R.S., includes the following:

To bargain in good faith shall mean the performance of the mutual obligation of the employer and the labor organization to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, or any question arising thereunder, and the execution of a written contract incorporating any agreement reached if requested by either party , but such obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession. (emphasis supplied)

Having concluded the parties have reached agreement for the 82-83 fiscal year, we cannot order them back to the bargaining table to discuss wages. Respondent's Motion to Vacate is granted and the parties are ordered hereby to place into effect the agreement negotiated in March and approved by the Legislature on April 16, 1982.

All Judges assigned to the panel in this matter join in this Order.

Filed August 31, 1982.

1. Section 48-837 of the Nebraska Statutes establishes the right of public employees to form employee organizations for the purpose of collective bargaining and then says:

"provided that any such agreements with the State of Nebraska or any agency thereof shall cover an annual period coinciding with the annual budgeting period of the state and shall be subject to approval by the Legislature."