COIR Takes Pillen Order Ending Remote Work Under Advisement; Hopes For Quick Resolution


    The Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations has taken under advisement a request by the state employees 8,000-member union to delay Gov Jim Pillen’s executive order ending most remote or hybrid work arrangements by Jan. 2. 

      Representatives of the Nebraska Association of Public Employees argued last week the order would create “chaos” for state workers and the taxpayers they serve because of adjustments employees would have to adopt quickly or because of an expected exodus of state workers to private jobs that allow working from home. 

     Attorney Mark Fahleson, representing the Pillen administration, rejected the “parade of horribles” predicted by the union, which he said is making an “extraordinary” attempt to usurp the governor’s power to manage state employees. 

   Fahleson, a former Republican state chairman, argued the state’s labor contract allows the governor to change “the site” of the workforce without bargaining with the union. 

    Fahleson also reminded the commissioners the union withdrew a remote work proposal during collective bargaining a year ago after winning what he called “record salary increases,” adding the union was “asking the commission to award them something they voluntarily gave up.”

      Commission head William Blake promised quick action on the union’s request for a temporary injunction against Pillen’s order.

     He also asked attorneys for both sides to submit written briefs on whether a state law already prohibits any change in “employment status … in any way” while a grievance is being considered by the commission.

     About 1,300 state employees work remotely. A union survey with 1,700 members responding showed 1,390 of them are considering or actively looking to leave state jobs due to Pillen’s order.